Every day in the U.S children under the age of 18 are held in solitary confinement. This is not an irregular occurrence but a relatively common practice used to isolate, separate from the general population, observe, and punish. Sometimes they get a mattress, but are prohibited from laying on it during the day. Frequently the cells are cold, temperature being an intentional punishing element. In an isolation cell at a youth detention center in Miami the temperature was a brisk 59 degrees. The young boy in the cell, pictured below, was wearing only his cotton t-shirt and shorts. He was cold. He said that he had been in his windowless isolation cell without books or study material for over 72 hours, only coming out for two hours to bathe and exercise.
The existence of the isolation cell in our society is a … Read More »
A couple weeks ago we brought you news that R.F, a young man who had been in custody in Miami awaiting trial for nearly 5 years, had finally been sentenced and charged. I first met R.F photographing inside Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where he had been incarcerated since the age of 14. After that initial visit, we stayed in touch, and R.F eventually sent me a copy of the manuscript he had been writing about his childhood and life up to that point. There is something to be said about such a young life already having over 100 pages worth of stories to tell. Being in touch with R.F also meant being in touch with Gale Lewis, his public defender and a talented, passionate, immensely hard-working woman. Since the news that R.F’s case is finally moving forward, I recorded … Read More »
In the wake of the beyond devastating events of last Friday (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/connecticut-school-shooting/index.html), wherein a young man entered an elementary school heavily armed and proceeded to kill 6 adults and 20 children, I am forced to mourn again the case of firearms ending up in the wrong hands. In my work, I encounter story after story where children acquire guns, sometimes with fatal consequences. I remember talking to one young man and asking him where he got the gun he used in his crime, his response was,”Where do you get a gun? You just get a gun.” While vague, his statement reflects the ease with which a person, even a child, can access a deadly weapon. In Connecticut, the gunman, a 20-year-old man, used three of his mother’s guns in the massacre.
This is all leaves me wondering, what can we do? … Read More »
After nearly five years awaiting trial in Miami’s Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, R.F’s case is finally moving forward (Read about R.F’s case history HERE) The youngest of his co-defendants, R.F recently took a deal for a minimum of 18 months (maximum of 36 months) in a juvenile facility. His older co-defendants all took deals between 20 and 30 years. R.F was able to plead down to a non-sexual offense, so he won’t have a sex offender charge on his record. In the next month or so he will be transferred to a youth treatment facility in Okeechobee, Florida, 140 miles of Miami. As part of the deal, after his release he will be on adult probation for ten years… which is going to be pretty tough. R.F was taken into custody when he was 14 years old. At the earliest, … 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 »