Richard Ross

Juvenile in Justice

Juvenile In Justice is a project to document the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist and, occasionally, harm them. Learn more about the project, and follow the blog, at www.juvenile-in-justice.com

Juvenile in Justice the book, with essays by Ira Glass of This American Life and Bart Lubow of Annie E. Casey Foundation, can be ordered here. For more information about the Juvenile-in-Justice exhibition, visit the exhibition page

The work has been published on CBS NewsWired.comNPRPBS NewshourProPublica, and Harper’s Magazine, for which it was awarded the 2012 ASME Award for Best News and Documentary Photography. The project has been generously supported by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.

1. I’ve been locked up for 21 months. I haven’t been sentenced yet. —D.P., age 16 Bridges Juvenile Center (Spofford), Bronx, New York, a secure detention facility built in 1957 with a maximum capacity of 75 kids, closed March 2011.

2. A 12-year-old juvenile in his windowless cell at Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, operated by Mississippi Security Services, a private company. There is currently a lawsuit against MSS that forced it to reduce the center’s population. An 8:1 inmate to staff ratio must now be maintained.

3. I have been here about three weeks. I got picked up for VOP. Not much to do here. Mostly I write on the wall. I really don’t want to talk to you. —A.W., age 16 Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi.

4. A young girl at Maryvale, an all-girls level-12 institution in Rosemead, California.

5. I’m waiting for my mom to come get me. Is she in there? She’s at work today. I want to go home. I got in trouble at school today. —R.T., age 10 Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, Reno, Nevada. R.T. was brought in from school by a policeman. He stabbed a schoolmate, but it is unclear what the tool was, a pencil, knife, fork … He was waiting to be picked up by his mom, who couldn’t come get him until she got off work for fear of losing her job. He was checked on every five minutes. The director of the facility recalled an eight-year-old being brought in for taking a bagel and stated, “This is not the place for these offenses.”

6. I’ve been here for two weeks, and this is my third time in. I’m in the sixth grade. I was in placement but I ran away. They accused me of assault against my mom, but she scratched herself and said I did it. My dad lives in Atlanta and works in a barbershop. -E.Y., age 11 Juvenile Detention Center, Houston, Texas.

7. I went to day school next door to this place for eight months. When I went back to regular school I got in a fight in three days. A kid was calling my mom bad names. I punched him and left school and started beating up a car. Cops came for me and I wouldn’t put on my seat belt when they put me in their car. So that was another violation. I told them I didn’t want to come back here … but here I am. I’ve been here a week and have a week to go. I’m “sanctioned” for two weeks. —N.R., age 12 Douglas County Juvenile Detention, Lawrence, Kansas.

8. Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center, Caldwell, Idaho.

9. B.P., age 18, is self-abusive, not taking his meds, combative, and won’t think twice about hurting staff. He is being held in the crisis intervention unit, on 24-hour supervision. He is wearing only his underwear. Half the staff is female, and thus they will supervise a male, although they don’t watch him shower or use the bathroom. His clothes are removed when he goes in the unit to prevent him from hanging himself. MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Woodburn, Oregon.

10. C.L has made a career out of being a juvenile system resident. He is 17 and has been in the system since he was 12. He sees no future for himself and claims the judge hates him and will never let him go home. He was in a psychiatric institution in Las Vegas. He thinks he will go from here to a group home rather than his own home. When he was in the psychiatric hospital, the staff let him do what he wanted as long as he didn’t bother them. He didn’t participate in any program for almost a year- now he refuses to be in any type of program. He tries to make deals with the counselors, ex. ”If I can call my mother, I will behave,” instead of conforming to the system in place, which rewards juveniles with calls home for participating in their program. C.L was part of an escape recently, he is a smart kid. He has daily talks with counselors. In the observation cell he is not permitted books, pens or pencils and is observed every five minutes. He claimed that his meal tasted like shit, so he shit on his tray. Nevada Youth Training Center, Elko, Nevada.


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the goal is to love myself so much it offends other people


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I love Augustus Waters and all but if someone came up to me with a cigarette in his mouth and was like “it’s a fucking metaphor haha” I would probably walk away…

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Oh god. It’s finally back.

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Actual Quotes from my Dad (An English Teacher)

  • Dad: Why the hell did you put a comma there?
  • Dad: Do you even know what a participial phrase is?
  • Dad: Omg. He's like my favorite character of all time.
  • Dad: Who should I dress up as for the movie premier?
  • Dad: Hey are you awak? I know it's late, but you read Animal Farm, right? Yeah. I need you to read this report. I can't tell if I am just super tired or if this is actual bullshit.
  • Dad: Alesha wouldn't be able to spell 'definitely' right if wrote it down for her. She would fucking erase it and then write 'defiantly', because she doesn't care. I hate her.
  • Dad: I need you to bake brownies. I lost a bet.
  • Dad: Omg. You cannot ship me with Gilcher. You know I don't like tattoos and he's like twenty-five. And for Christ's sake, he teaches math.
  • Dad: Omg. Gilcher said the funniest thing today.
  • Dad: Mrs. Ashworth and I have decided to start a band. It'll be called Great Expectations.
  • Dad: It's like you didn't read the fucking book.
  • Dad: Okay. So this week you're reading this book I stole from Mrs. Ashworth's. It's like sixty pages long, but you'll love it.
  • Dad: *puts books on my bed for me to read everyday and demands that I read them*
  • Dad: My son doesn't like reading. I have not only failed him, but society. You aren't my son. Leave.
  • Dad: Okay. So you're getting books for Christmas. All of you. I get discounts on them since I'm a teacher, and since I'm a teacher, it's all I can afford, so...
  • Dad: Fucking standardized testing can go fuck itself in the ass.
  • Dad: I have to teach for the required testing instead of what they really need to know.
  • Dad: Fuck the government.
  • Dad: Fuck the school board.
  • Dad: Close the door.
  • Dad: Charles Dickens was so fucking pretentious, and I hate him, but he also caused change, but he's such a Dick. Ha. DICKens.
  • Dad: I love puns.
  • Dad: People who say sarcasm is the lowest form of humor are assholes.
  • Dad: Please shut up.
  • Dad: Catching Fire was the worst book but the best movie and that feels weird.
  • Dad: I wouldn't get so mad when you call me at school if you didn't change your ringtones to inappropriate rap music.
  • Dad: I fucking hate Alesha. She asked what countries were apart of Austria-Hungary today and I almost told her to get out.
  • Dad: You cannot visit my school in a dress that short. There are boys there.
  • Dad: Barbra Parks is fucking Queen.
  • Dad: I need you to make me a good, relaxing playlist for silent reading. I'm too lazy.
  • Dad: If I have to watch two of my students grind on each other at one more dance, I will kill them both.
  • Dad: They act like I care what they think.
  • Dad: I hate homework.
  • Dad: I have decided to become a politician.
  • Dad: What's the one book with the guys and the one kills the other and the chick without a name who dies and the short angry man? Mouseman? Oh my fucking gosh. Of Mice and Men. I have failed.
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Winona Ryder playing guitar in her apartment by Joe McNally, 1994

Winona Ryder playing guitar in her apartment by Joe McNally, 1994

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the fallen


the fallen

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she dead


she dead

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