No Place for Kids
On any given night in the U.S., there are approximately 60,500 youth confined in juvenile correctional facilities or other residential programs. Photographer Richard Ross has spent the past five years criss-crossing the country photographing the architecture, cells, classrooms and inhabitants of these detention sites. The resulting photo-survey, Juvenile-In-Justice, documents 350 facilities in over 30 states. It’s more than a peek into unseen worlds — it is a call to action and care.
“I grew up in a world where you solve problems, you don’t destroy a population,” says Ross. “To me it is an affront when I see the way some of these kids are dealt with.”
The U.S. locks up children at more than six times the rate of all other developed nations. The over 60,000 average daily juvenile lockups, a figure estimated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), are also disproportionately young people of colour. With an average cost of $80,000 per year to lock up a child, the U.S. spends more than $5 billion annually on youth detention.
On top of the cost, in its recent report No Place for Kids, the AECF presents evidence to show that youth incarceration does not reduce recidivism rates, does not benefit public safety and exposes those imprisoned to further abuse and violence.
Ross thinks his images of juvenile lock-ups can, and should, be “ammunition” for the on-going policy and funding debates between reformers, staff, management and law-makers. “My images were used by a senate subcommittee as part of a discussion on Federal legislation to prevent pre-adjudicated, detained [pre-trial] juveniles from being housed with kids who’d committed hard crimes. You shouldn’t house these populations together,” says Ross. “That’s a great thing for me to know that my work is being used for advocacy rather than for the masturbatory art world I grew up in.” Read on and see more of the photos…