"My mom is deceased. Drug overdose." by richard ross

My mom is deceased. Drug overdose. I stayed with my auntie until I was 11.  She was abusive, verbally and physically. I went to maybe 15-20 foster homes. They were all ladies, no man in the home. My baby is one. His daddy’s family took him to see his daddy. He wouldn’t give my baby back. The baby was in the hospital with a lung problem. I asked my social worker if I could go to see my baby. She said I had to wait until my next court date in two months to see the judge. So I went AWOL to see my baby. They picked me up and now I am 241.1—dual custody between dependency and delinquency for going AWOL. I just wanted to see my baby.

I like Ms. Perez, one of the corrections officers. All the staff here just order you. Ms. Perez talks to me.

—T.L., age 16



"Uncles" vs. "Officers" by richard ross

Honolulu “uncles” (left) and Chicago “officers” (right)

Detention centers are defined by differing language and uniforms nation-wide. Aunties and uncles staff Honolulu’s Hale Ho'omalu Juvenile Hall (now moved to a new facility) and dress in flip-flops, shorts and casual shirts. Officers staff Cook County Juvenile Detention in Chicago, Illinois and dress in quasi-military standardized uniforms.  Cook County is the largest juvenile detention facility in the country, capable of detaining 498 kids. In 2010 the average population was 325 kids, the vast majority African-American. Many are in for violating parole or drug possession – a bad urine analysis. The average length of stay is 30 days, but ranges from 72 hours to 2 years. Hale Ho'omalu Juvenile Hall was built in the 1950s, a new facility was under construction at the time this was image was taken and was occupied in early 2010.

click here for more images of  Hale Ho'omalu Juvenile Hall 

click here for more images of Cook County Juvenile Detention Center