The juvenile justice in Los Angeles and throughout California isn’t going to be reformed from the inside. Organizations that can maintain a cloak of secrecy are slow to change, even when they want to adapt and improve. As a juvenile defense lawyer in Los Angeles, I continuously bump up against the limits of a system that, for example, doesn’t allow jury trials and often excludes even the press from its proceedings.
That is why it is so important that people see the effects of the juvenile justice system. It is one thing to theorize that children as young as six should be subjected to tough love. It’s quite another to see just how our children–and they are our children–are treated in juvenile detention facilities.
You probably don’t recognize the name, but we all owe a debt of gratitude to photographer Richard Ross. He has spent the better part of five years photographing what happens in juvenile detention facilities throughtout the country. In October 2011, Harpers Magazine published his powerful photo-essay, entitled “In Focus: Juvenile-In-Justice.”
And just a few days ago, Richard Ross’ work received the recognition it so richly deserves. On May 3, his work in Harpers received the award for Best News and Documentary Photography at the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards.
You owe it to yourself and to society at large to look at these powerful images.