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The above photos are from Raw File’s photo essay, Uncompromising Photos Expose Juvenile Detention in America.
The first (and most obvious) take on these photos is that, contrary to the title, they are compromised: we generally aren’t allowed to see the faces of juvenile inmates or offenders.
It’s fitting when you think about it, drawing attention to everything but the face: the sheer numbers of children detained, the conditions they live in, what prison feels like are all part and parcel of a growing trend toward incarceration in this country. And whether it’s a slight 12-year-old boy in a Mississippi facility facing “North or Nothing” graffiti or a young girl whose beautiful blonde hair obscures her face, you realize that when a society generalizes crime and corrections, the faces are unseen to begin with. The kids are really not more than statistics out of their homes and in the state’s care. It doesn’t matter than the child himself is longer than the toddler-sized bunk bed he sleeps in or that the girl sits in a cell only slightly wider than she is, their individual stories can only be guessed at while our societal solution for their problems is painfully obvious.
Read More thoughts on Ross’ essay at BagNews: Juvenile Incarceration from the Inside
(credit: Richard Ross Top photo caption: The Caldwell Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center detains children between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. When Ross visited, six girls were in detention for offenses that included runaway/curfew violations, lewd and lascivious conduct, molestation abuse, controlled substance, trafficking methamphetamine, burglary and possession of marijuana. Bottom photo caption: A 12-year-old in his cell at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. The window has been boarded up from the outside. The facility is operated by Mississippi Security Police, a private company. In 1982, a fire killed 27 prisoners and an ensuing lawsuit against the authorities forced them to reduce their population to maintain an 8:1 inmate to staff ratio.)
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