19 November 2012

Juvenile In Justice

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

I've lifted the image above from this slide show at The Guardian of recent work by Richard Ross. I have posted (in pretty much wholly complimentary terms) on Ross's work several times here before.  This is powerful work - once again. It raises obvious questions. How many rich white kids are here? Why are these kids being stored away? The likely answer to the first question - not many, if any - largely answers the second.

No need to be naive. Many of these kids are troubled and need considerable, ongoing help in dealing with their troubles. Some might well be incorrigible. We'll never know if tossing the kid in a cell is our default option. There has got to be a better, cheaper (whether financially or in terms of life prospects for kids) way to address ten-twelve-fourteen year old kids and their troubles.?

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Blogger Colin Penter said...

Thanks Jim for this and your previous piece. They have been really helpful in assisting me to think more about a project I have been tossing around in my head for some time- a project here in Western Australia to capture and photograph images of the daily mainifestations of the corporatocracy- corporate and state power- and the ways that it impinges on our daily life here in Western Australia. I was struck by this the other day when travelling along our forsehore and noticing how the Perth skyline was dominated by buildings which are named after the mining and resource companies and financial institutions that dominate our economy, society and community. These posts have been so helpful. Thanks again for all your work. I look forward each day to your posts. warm regards from perth western australia

19 November, 2012 18:03  
Blogger Stan B. said...

I taught Spec Ed junior high school students in NYC and Oakland, CA who were officially classified as "Extremely Emotionally Disturbed and Socially Maladjusted" for 17 yrs. It was the last stop before an even "more restrictive setting" which usually meant some kind of lock up.

Tossing kids in jail this young means one thing- society has let them down at each and every opportunity possible. Make no mistake- some of these kids, even at this age, are genuine sociopaths, some of them already so far gone that nothing short of an all out, no expense spared program of daily therapy and reeducation will afford them any chance of reclaiming their humanity... a chance they will never receive. And we have created them.

Most still have some small dying ember (of the very humanity that has been beat down, corrupted and denied) deep down inside them that only the same kind of effort will properly rekindle and restore- again, few if any will get that chance. Instead, we offer and distribute bandages to mortal gaping wounds.

The causes are many, but obvious, for anyone inclined to indulge in the most cursory of looks: born into heavily polluted and chemically toxic environments that are surrounded by junk food, fast food and every overly processed chemical additive imaginable (and I didn't even mention... drugs). Reared by one parent, no parent households, adult children with little to no child rearing skills themselves. A police force trained to single them out as criminals before they see or consider anything else.

They attend the worst schools, and even if they somehow manage to graduate- how many can afford college? And for those that don't and can't- what kind of employment is available? How many of Mitt's kids would do any better under such conditions?

That's not to say there's no hope- millions of inner city parents, children and families produce miracles each and every day! Particularly when even the child of a strong, loving and supportive family can be undone by the overwhelming negativity of the inner city streets they must somehow navigate every waking day. It's a miracle any survive whole.

Unfortunately, most of these kids are ultimately seen as little more than fodder for the prison industrial complex- increasingly privatized, and the one growing economic bastion of employment for working class Whites.

19 November, 2012 22:43  

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