Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility is an all-female facility in Albany, Oregon. The only one in the state. Last month Richard Ross spent 12+ hours talking, photographing, and recording the people who live and work at Oak Creek. The following post focuses on two perspectives: K.X, a young woman in insolation at Oak Creek and Mike Riggan, the superintendent of Oak Creek…[See all blog posts on Oak Creek HERE]
“I’m in isolation at Birch. [During the day] you can’t lay down, gotta sit up. If they see you laying down they take away your mattress.”
I started doing a lot of stuff when my sister left: snorting powder, popping pills… I thought I was grown.”
– K.X, age 19.
“We do have good staff here. K.X, the girl in isolation, unfortunately, chose to assault another youth and … Read More »
Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility is an all-female facility in Albany, Oregon. The only one in the state. Last month I spent 12+ hours talking, photographing, and recording the people who live and work at Oak Creek. What follows is an excerpt of a conversation with Mike Riggan, the superintendent of Oak Creek, on maintaining a safe environment while simultaneously dealing with the threat of aggressive youth.
[See all blog posts on Oak Creek HERE]
Mike Riggan, superintendent:
“Here is our history: after Oak Creek was opened as a girls-only facility, a number of girls engaged in an escape plan. After lights out on graveyard shift two girls staged a fight in the dorm on the Cedar Unit. The other five girls had taken shampoo and soap and placed it on the floor. They were able to secret a steel rod and … Read More »
Earlier this month, I interviewed Anthony, a young man who had spent over a year in the California DJJ between 2004 and 2006 and then went on to receive his degree from University of California, Berkeley. (Read Part 1 of the interview HERE and part 2 HERE) His disheartening experiences in the DJJ brought up a multitude of questions about their policies and whether or not the system has changed since his time there. I called up Jennifer Kim a senior policy analyst with the Ella Baker Center and asked her some questions about the current state of affairs in DJJ facilities. You will be disappointed to learn that much of what Anthony experienced and suffered from is still happening. My interview with Ms. Kim after the jump…
Continued from Monday’s post, a conversation with Anthony, a former ward of the California Department of Juvenile Justice. (Read it HERE)
Juvenile-in-Justice: It seems like a huge component of the troubles with the DJJ comes from issues with some staff… can you elaborate on that?
Anthony: The staff is, for the most part, shit. And to make matters worse, the wards antagonized the staff, they would posture and tell staff they were going to flood their cell, stuff like that. Sometimes the issues were small but lead to an overall feeling of being small and worthless. Like, the staff would be too lazy to bring you toilet paper. You would have to ask multiple times, and they would just, brush you off. It’s a simple request, not an item of privilege. Counseling was a complete joke. The corrections officers would trade their … Read More »
What an amazing night! This work has been viewed in many venues– from magazines to online slideshows to reports from non-profits. In every space you receive the work differently. On Saturday night at the exhibition at Ronald Feldman in NY, visitors were able to see the work large and printed and in-your-face. Filling two giant rooms in the SoHo gallery, the work hung unframed and un-matted, leaving nothing to separate you from the lives and stories of the juveniles in the photographs. It was simultaneously beautiful and fiercely powerful. Thanks to all who came out and to the Feldman’s and their wonderful staff for such great execution of the exhibition (Pictures below). And if you are in the area be sure to visit the exhibition, which runs until February 6. More details at the gallery website HERE.
The Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, in Camarillo in Ventura County holds a population of committed youths from all over the state. VYCF is known by those in the field as a problematic facility. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice cites the facility as a “paragon of dysfunction” and has previously condemned the institution for inhumane living conditions and violence (CJCJ). A January 2012 report from the Office of the Special Master, evaluating the facility, found that “After years of reform efforts…there have not been significant declines in violence and fear at the facility.” The report also identifies key issues that haven’t been addressed that include, “gender responsive programming and facility improvements to avoid a ‘prison-like’ atmosphere.”
The Juvenile Detention Center in Houston, Texas has 210 beds, with a normal occupancy between 160 to 192 children. At the time of visit last month, they were temporarily over capacity and had to resort to MOUs– multiple occupancy units. This translates to kids sleeping in the day room (see the first image). According to staff, the center was backed up because the kids had STAR testing and couldn’t be moved to other facilities. Staff also inform that the drug of choice used to be crack, but has now shifted towards prescription drugs such as Xanax. Law enforcement doesn’t ask kids about citizenship. The center only gets the Mexican consulate involved when there are problems of undocumented children without parents.