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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Juvenile Injustice

Richard Ross, a photography professor at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), embarked on a very ambitious project to capture images and narratives of Juveniles throughout the USA held in detention centres. The main goal of the project is to bring awareness of the number of children held in detention centres and their conditions. Ross is quoted in stating that the work is to bring a reaction to as many people as possible so that the plight of Americas Juveniles held for their crimes may inspire some hope for reform.

Ross visited more than 200 detention centres in 31 states.This has culminated is a large network of sharing of images and stories on the blog http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com and a publication of 150 photographs in a book called Juvenile In Injustice as well as other forms of social media. The work has also been published in various forms of media including Harper's Magazine for which it was awarded the 2012 ASME award for Best News and Documentary Photography

In Ross' words: “I’m taking it out of the domain that I’m normally used to, and I’m creating a different audience that instead of looking at it and saying ‘Nice’ or ‘Interesting,’ they look at it and say, ‘This is wrong. How can I change it?’”

This is inspiring work in that to collects images to drive a reaction for change and from what I have read online appears to be very successful gathering a network of people across America lobbing for legal reform.

The children photographed are intentionally anonymous, often taken in isolation giving the feeling of loneliness, helplessness and perhaps abandonment. To this aim the images are nothing but a success in achieving their goal. It is wonderful to see art used to document our ever changing world but even more wonderful to know that it is helping to change it; this is what makes the images more powerful - the wind of change.

Ross' online website showing all of his published work is the best source for these images: http://richardross.net/juvenile-in-justice and make for a brilliant reference for this OCA course, showing how photography can describe the Places used by People. For me this work has been the greatest inspiration and has helped me to understand the relevance of this course within photography.

There are two many brilliant examples to show on this blog but here are my favourite five. I chose these for no other reason than they created the greatest reaction in me, which is Ross' aim.



The above image of a young teenager reading the previous occupants' graffiti suggest that this is a new arrival, a life changing moment. The despair of the room making this image evermore poignant.

The image below showing the discipline maintained in a correctional facility. All of the inmates have their heads bowed, perhaps in shame or submission. The colours in both of these images make for a striking balance.



The remaining images are very clever as are all of them in this collection..... one I will revisit.