Girls-in-Justice

K.Y., age 19I’ve only been here 17 days. During the day you’re not allowed to lie down. If they see you lying down, they take away your mattress. I got in a fight at Aspen. I hit the staff while they were trying to break it up. They think I’m intimidating. I can’t go out into the day room; I have to stay in the cell. They only release me for a shower. I’ve been to Oak Creek three times. I have a daughter, so I’m stressed. She’s six months old. At 12 I was caught stealing at Wal-Mart with my brother and sister. My sister ran away from home with a white dude. When my sister left I was sort of alone...then my mother left with a new boyfriend, so my aunt has custody. She’s 34. My aunt smoked weed, snorts powder, does pills, lots of prescription stuff. I got sexual with a five-year-older boy, so I started running away. So I was basically grown when I was about 14. But I wasn’t doing meth. Then I stopped going to school and dropped out after eighth grade. Then I was in a parenting program for young mothers...then I left that, so they said I was endangering my baby. The people in the program were scared of me. I don’t know what to think. I was selling meth, crack, and powder when I was 15. I was Measure 11. I was with some other girls—they blamed the crime on me, and I took the charges because I was the youngest. They beat up this girl and stole from her, but I didn’t do it. But they charged me with assault and robbery too. This was my first heavy charge.-K.Y., age 19
Restraint Devices (Left to Right)
MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Woodburn, OregonNorth Dakota Youth Correction Center, Bismarck, North Dakota
Restraint Devices
Isolation Rooms (Left to Right, Top to Bottom)
Loysville Youth Development Center, Loysville, PennsylvaniaSouth Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility, South Bend, IndianaSouthwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center, Caldwell, IdahoAlameda County Juvenile Detention Center, San Leandro, CaliforniaWyandotte County Juvenile Detention, Kansas City, KansasSheriff’s Isolation Room, El Paso, Texas
Isolation Rooms
 
C.T., age 15I got kicked out of school for partying and truancy. I use meth. They have had me here for two weeks. I think they keep me here because they think I am a risk of hurting myself. When they want to come in, they come in, they don’t knock or anything—this is the observation room. There are five other girls here I think for things like running away and curfew violations...lewd and lascivious conduct, selling meth, robbery, weed...stuff like that.-C.T., age 15
 
 

 

 

 
L.V., age 16This is my seventh time here. Sometimes it was probation violation; fighting at school, drug violations—weed and meth. My mom’s not in the picture. My dad was in jail until I was 12. My grandma raised me till then. My dad was around for about a year when he got out of prison, but he violated and went back. Now he’s been out for about a year again, and I’m living with him. He works at a hospital cleaning equipment. Three of my brothers live with me. I have four brothers. They all have different moms. They’re all in a valley gang. I’m affiliated. I should be in 11th grade, but I dropped out in eighth grade. I don’t go to school. I’ve been to lots of placements and camps. I just go AWOL a lot to hang out with my homies. The longest I was home since I was 12 was nine months. Now I’ve been living with my brother’s baby momma. She was 15 when she had her baby. That brother is in jail. If I win my fitness, I’ll get a job. It’s really not me in here, it’s all the mistakes I’ve done in here. It’s gonna be hard for me to change, but I’m really working on it. My family is the gang, really. My uncles, my aunts, even my grandmother who’s 52 is in a gang. My family’s uncontrollable. My five uncles—three are in jail for murder, two for attempted murder. My aunts are in for 211—deadly weapons. I’ve got one brother fighting murder, another brother in and out of juvie. They’re all dope related, they’re all in the gang. My family is the gang. When you lead this life and you’re on the outs, you just count your days, because that’s where it leads you.-L.V., age 16
C.H., age 20I was 13-years-old with my boyfriend. We were both extremely high. We were burglarizing a house in the high desert. The owners came in...and the crime escalated. I’ve been in this cell since I was 14, sharing it with another woman ever since. I think it’s seven-by-ten. I’ve been eligible for parole, but on four different occasions the families of the victims were present to speak against my release. If it was my family, I would do the same, but I am a different person at 20 than the drugged child I was at 13. Now I’m the head of a women’s firefighting unit that works with locals and assists in brush clearing, mud slides, and forest fires. I’m due for release in four years and three months. I age out of the system. They have to let me go when I turn 25.-C.H., age 20
 
 
C.J., age 16I ran away from Pierce County. I’m an ARY (at-risk youth.) Mom thought I was at risk. I didn’t stay home. I hang out with my boyfriend and my best friends. But my mother blames everybody. She doesn’t like it that I’m rude and not going to school. My charges are truancy, not staying at home, and being rude. I’ve been here 14 times. For what I’ve done I don’t belong in a place like this, but I’m here.-C.J., age 16






B.N., age 15I don’t have a home. I’ve been here a month and a half, the first time I was in LP. I was in Phoenix before this. I ran away a lot. I really didn’t run away, but my Mom kicked me out of the house. When I was 12, she dropped me out of school. My Mom’s 32, a crack and meth addict. They took my brothers and sisters away. But then I finally ran away. She made me prostitute when I was 11. I think I was in fourth grade. Nobody wanted to help me. After a month and a half I have my fourth court date coming up. I don’t know what they are going to do with me. My Dad died when I was seven. He was shot. My brothers and sisters are in foster homes. Once you’re in the game, it’s hard to get out of it. And I like the money now. I had gonorrhea when I was 12. I would be a mother to my brother and sister. I would do things like pay all the house bills. It’s not easy for the staff in here to take care of us. They have to come in and take care of us rather than their own kids. I never knew this was going to happen to me. Do you know what a foster home is like? No, seriously, can you tell me what a foster home is like? I think I want to go there.-B.N., age 15
Hallways (Left to Right)
Hallway of a cellblock in Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, Camarillo, California. Hallway in Giddings State School, a juvenile correctional facilty in Giddings, Texas.

 
A restraint bed in a dependency lockdown mental health unitA restraint bed in a dependency lockdown mental health unit. When children are a danger to themselves or others they may be cuffed or jacketed and placed facedown on this bed and secured. The director of the unit explained that while this was not an uncommon procedure, they have altered their practice and this room has not been used in the past year. This facility is the sole unit in the state licensed to restrain children in this manner.
 
D., age 11I was four months when I first came in the system (child welfare—not juvenile justice.) My mom didn’t have a house; she lost it. My sister’s now with a foster family. If it works out, she gets to stay. But she told me its not going to work out and she’ll be back to see me. My dad lives on a farm. I was with him there for a while but my dad’s cousin lived there and I didn’t want to be with his cousin. I’m in fifth grade.-D., age 11D is in a shelter run by the Department of Human Services, not a juvenile detention facility. Kids who have spent time in the dependency system are more likely to end up incarcerated than their peers who do not.
 
S., age 18I live with my mother, her boyfriend, my brother, aunt, and my two-year-old baby. I was 15 when I had my baby. My mom was 17 when she had her first child. Her and my brother were really hard on me. I would sneak out to get away from them. I would ditch school and hang out with my boyfriend, J. My older brother would act like the police and catch up with me. J doesn’t have much family and he would fight my brother for me, but my brother was much older and bigger. My family raised us rough. My dad always abused my mom. He would hit her in front of us and sometime he would hit us too. CPS was called in but he knew how to talk to them. He knew how to manipulate them. My living situation was pretty rocky. The landlord said it was too crowded and we had to go. We were evicted. My oldest brother also had a baby. So there were five adults and a lot of kids in a two-bedroom apartment. I was nine months pregnant, actually five days after I gave birth we moved to Oxnard and my grandma’s. It was super crowded there and she was sick. My aunt lost her job so only my mother and brother were making any money. Now we live over at the most ghetto place in town. My mom was desperate for a place to live. She’s section 8.-S., age 18

A female juvenile with scars from cutting herself; self-mutilationA female juvenile with scars from cutting herself; self-mutilation.
 
 
 
 
 
Teenager lies under the covers at Starview Adolescent CenterTeenager lies under the covers at Starview Adolescent Center. The center consists of two facilities: a CTF (community treatment facility) and PHF (psychiatric health facilty).
 
 
 
 
K.N., age 15Been here two months for a violation. I ran away from placement. It was a group home with 65 kids in Orange County. The first time I went to placement I was 11, for battery of a kid at school. I was in sixth grade. The police came and arrested me at school. I called home, but I had to spend the night there. They said that I needed to realize what I did. And then they put me in placement the next day and I AWOLed. Then I went to five different placements. They are gonna send me from here to placement. Mostly I want to go home. I have to finish my placement program first. I have a girlfriend here. And on the outs. My parents are real Catholic. They say God doesn’t like you being with girls, but they’re glad that I do, because that way I won’t get pregnant. But God thinks I can do better with my life, and He knows I will do better.-K.N., age 15

A young girl at a level 12 lock-down facilityA young girl at a level 12 lock-down facility. The director reports that all girls here have been sexually abused.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
R.T., age 16I was at the packing plant for about 16 months. ICE had a big raid, lots of trucks and men with guns and helicopters. They deported most of the people, but kept some of us to go to court against the owners. They had a lot of minors working here. All of us were from the same little village in Guatemala. We live in houses that the company owns. I think they let me stay because of my baby.-R.T., age 16
 
 
 
 
 
90 miles from the UCSB campus.
90 miles from the UCSB campus

All works in this exhibition are copyright © Richard Ross, www.juvenile-in-justice.com. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the artist.