via the Smithsonian Magazine: “Why Mass Incarceration Defines us as a Society. ”
In 1989 Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative to provide legal representation to those denied proper representation. In the ensuing years, Stevenson has defended death row inmates and had over 75 death sentences overturned. His most recent victory, in a Supreme Court hearing this past June, resulted in the banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles. Stevenson was recently awarded the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in social action. This piece, by Chris Hedges, allows a glance into Stevenson’s life defending the condemned.
via the NY Times: “Juvenile Injustice and the States.”
Since Stevenson’s victory and the supreme court’s ruling to ban mandatory juvenile life without parole sentence, the pressure is now on states to implement the ruling, and deal with juvenile offenders with sentences other than life … Read More »
Continuing off Monday’s post, a few more thoughts on hair, teenage social behaviors, and identity:
Immediately below, one girl does another’s hair at Spofford Juvenile Center in New York (now closed).
I’m from Queens. I was picked up when I ran away from my group home. I’ve done that a lot. There’s too much drama there. Later this month I’ll be going to Pleasantville.
- D, age 14, getting her hair done.
The girl doing D’s hair is J, who is also 14 and was also picked up for running away from a group home, a different one. Her mother visits, her dad doesn’t live at home. They both wear the same institutional-phlegm-green jumpsuits. Doing each other’s hair becomes not only a grooming routine but a form of entertainment and socialization. The girls chat and crack jokes and laugh. The … Read More »
We are all born with approximately 150,000 hair follicles, which, depending on our genes, bud into black or brown or blonde or curly or frizzy or straight locks. How we shape and style our strands is key to how we perceive ourselves… and how we compose ourselves to be perceived by those around us. This is especially true in juvenile custody, where every facility has their own rules regarding hair. In some facilities, where juvenile inmates wear uniforms or jumpsuits, their hair is their only venue for visual self-expression.
Below are examples from a detention center in Miami (pre-adjudication) and a secure facility in Delaware (post-adjudication).
I’m in 9th grade. I’ve been here for two days. For trespassing, fighting, and stuff… by a school. I’m in confinement ’cause I was disorderly to a guard. My dad is a barber, my … Read More »
I’m in the 9th grade. I originally had 16 charges of armed robbery, which was eventually dropped to seven. I’m also charged with attempted murder. I’ve never been in jail or juvie before this. I’ve been at TGK for three weeks… My mom, step dad and my little sister visit me here. I don’t know my real dad… My mom was in and out of jail in California for a while. I’m not in a gang, but I got kicked outta school. But here I do, I go to school and also I go to church… How did I get a gun? Someone gives you a gun.
D.H, age 15, at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (TGK) in Miami, Florida.
I was 14 when I started coming here. This time, I’ve been here for two … Read More »
I am on lock down for fighting. I was in the other unit, but they moved me here with the older kids. I am not out much anyway. They will move me to gen pop in a couple of days.
-J.R, age 15, at Ferris School in Delaware.
Kids escape institutions in many ways. Not all of them are over the fence. I have met kids that try to escape the reality of their 8 x 10 cells by pulling sweatshirts over their heads and create makeshift “pup-tents” with their blankets. With the knowledge that security, visibility, suicide-prevention and other issues are significant, I pose two questions:
1: Is there a way to design an area within the cell/room itself that gives the juvenile a sense of protection (and escapism) that they seek?
2: Why are cells being built that require a significant portion … Read More »
via the New York Times: “After the Violence the Rest of Their Lives”
We know this is from November 5th… but it’s such a good read and just in case you missed it… The article is about a research project that has closely followed for two decades the lives over 1,800 youths who grew up in Chicago and “offers a portrait of both the perpetrators and the victims in struggling, gang-ridden neighborhoods.”
via the NY Times, an Editorial: “How to Cut Prison Costs”
The U.S collectively spends more than $52 billion annually on prison costs. This quick read from last week’s Sunday Review is a good refresher on some of the creative ways states can decrease these costs, while helping make sure that people who are released from prison stay out.
via the NY Times: “A Texas Prosecutor Faces Justice”
A bit of … Read More »
Prison is a world I have a hard time understanding. As a society we make a lot of assumptions about prison, prisoners and anything having to do with those that are incarcerated. It may surprise you to know but most of those assumptions are dead wrong!
I am the mother of a son who has spent more of the last decade behind bars than in society. My son, Corey, is 25 years old. He is currently serving a 12-year sentence for armed robbery in Maryland. In reading the last two sentences you have likely already made assumptions about my son. You probably believe he is violent offender and that he is a “career criminal”. You would be wrong on both accounts. He plead guilty to armed robbery with a BB gun with no ammunition and my son injured no one in … Read More »