NEW YORK – The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice is holding a two-day conference for journalists on its campus in New York Monday and Tuesday. While the conference, Kids Behind Bars, Where’s the Justice in America’s Juvenile Justice System?, is primarily meant for journalists, many of the topics will be of interest not only to those in the field, but the general public as well. JJIE/Youth Today’s John Fleming and Clay Duda are attending the conference and continue their reporting today. For Day One coverage head over to our post here. DAY TWO
Mike Bocian, provided the keynote address Tuesday morning.
NEW YORK – The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice is holding a two-day conference for journalists on its campus in New York Monday and Tuesday. JJIE/Youth Today’s John Fleming and Clay Duda are attending the conference and will be reporting some highlights throughout. While the conference, Kids Behind Bars, Where’s the Justice in America’s Juvenile Justice System?, is primarily meant for journalists, many of the topics will be of interest not only to those in the field, but the general public as well. Speakers on Monday include: Mark Soler, executive director of the Center for Children’s Law & Policy; Vincent Schiraldi, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Probation; Ricardo Martinez, co-director, Padres & Jovenes Unidos and David Utter, director of policy, the Florida office of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gail Garinger, a former juvenile court judge, who is now the Child Advocate of Massachusetts’ Office of the Child Advocate, will deliver the keynote address.
I was in Johannesburg in 1993, before the rise of the anti-apartheid government, when the streets throbbed with uncertainty about the future. The political leadership was trying to decide if the fall of apartheid would be peaceful or bloody. The ambiguity hanging in the air made it hard to get a bead on the general direction of things. But you could find clues. You just had to search for them among the people of that huge industrial city, in their voices, their writings and especially, in their art.
There is no qualifying the corners of human suffering around the globe. It is all bad, from massacre sites, to famine zones. Still, if you consider just how dark the outlook for a human can be on God’s green Earth, observe the work in West Africa of the Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres. Few places in the world hold the level of hopelessness of an African prison, for the most part vortexes that may release a human but never the human spirit. Now imagine a prison in a failed state in Africa.
In the nation’s consciousness the Pacific Northwest stands out there on the edge of the ocean, crisp, wet, clean and green. It is our better half, poking us to a cleaner lifestyle, forcing us to look to the outdoors, to the natural beauty around us, reminding us of the things we need to do for our inner selves. We know it’s so, there is too much out there reverberates with the truth of it all. Healthy people, pristine forests, water, water everywhere. Fill your lungs with some fresh air and live a good life.
This holiday season, before you are reach for the eggnog, after you rip open the presents, when you’ve finished gearing up for visits from the family and friends, take a few minutes to look over some of the best work JJIE has generated this year. Starting tomorrow and continuing throughout the week we are posting compelling pieces that ran in 2011. These stories are rich with details about some of the most important issues dealing with youth today, from homelessness, to drug abuse, to sexuality, to juvenile crime. They are a sampling of our best work; which means they are not only well written, they get to the heart of what we do here at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. They, in short, are stories of young people and the challenges, heartbreaks and joys they face every day.
Judge Steven Teske, the chief judge of juvenile court in Clayton County, Ga., and a frequent contributor to the JJIE, will appear on Talk of the Nation, a live nation-wide radio program today. Teske, who was also the subject of a Washington Post story in mid-October, will speak on issues involving juvenile justice, including zero tolerance policies. “Zero tolerance is zero intelligence,” Teske says in the Post story. Teske says zero tolerance policies have resulted in too many kids entering the juvenile justice system. In Teske’s opinion, “zero tolerance often means overpunishment for low-level misdeeds,” according to The Post.
Who hasn’t been part of, or witness to, an ugly incident on the playground? You know the scene. Recess is going well, everyone is having great fun, then a disagreement ensues, over who knows what. Before you know it, there’s a torrent of threatening words, a flurry of shoves and finally a knee to the gut or a punch in the face. It can be a rough place, the playground.
Richard Ross is a busy guy. Catch him, if you can, dashing to, through or from, an airport. He’s always on the go.
But then again, if you plan on visiting 300 youth detention facilities across the nation, taking photos of more than 1,000 young people and administrators, then you don’t really have time to stand around and chat, for long anyhow.
One’s photography does not appear in more publications than you can shake a Canon 5D at — from Harpers to Architectural Digest — by being lazy. You don’t sit on your butt on the way to having your photos shown at galleries from The Tate Modern in London, to the High Museum in Atlanta. You don’t loaf around and end up publishing books, such as the Architecture of Authority and Waiting for the End of the World and get them introduced by the likes of John MacArthur and Sarah Vowell, by slacking.
And in between, if you are Ross, well you don’t really have down time, because there’s that class you have to teach at U.C. Santa Barbara.
It’s a good thing he approaches his work with the energy of a teenager, but it’s a better thing that he does it with the practiced eye and maturity of his 64 years. With that combination, comes not only care for his art and what’s in it, but the subjects and subject beyond the images. See it across his body of work.
His latest, and the object of his profound care for the past five years, is a project he calls Juvenile-In-Justice. This is what has taken him to those many detention centers scattered across 30 states. After 40 years of working in photography, he’s turning his attention, and his lens, he says, to the juvenile justice system.
The point of this exercise? He does not even attempt to blur his motivation. It is, quite simply, to “instigate policy reform.”
With his stunning photos it is hard to see how he will fail:
Ross’ work begins appearing this week on this page as well as our new arts page, Bokeh. Twice a week, you’ll see new images of his work on the JJIE site, where a link will take you to a larger body of his work on the Bokeh site. The images, all of youth inside detention centers, will include cutlines telling you enough about the teen for you to get a feel of their, and Ross’, humanity.
JJIE launches Arts site:
Not too many years ago, the still photo was the domain of the professional and the dedicated hobbyist. Today, when school children routinely have iPhones at the ready, we’ve reached the point where the world is our collective subject, caught from a billion different angles.
And what a glorious addition to our gallery of life’s great riches it is, this daily chronicle of human life, the capture of otherwise forgotten moments, the tally of the small order of life’s minutiae as well as the dramatic breaths in time that bring about outcries of emotion, the sparking of movements, the fall of governments.
With so many photos taken by so many photographers, though, the prevailing opinion may be that the art form has been eroded, that the cascade of mostly mediocre images pummels the viewer into disinterest. The riveting scene from a few years ago now ranges from mildly interesting to old hat.
But the truth is, stunningly wonderful photography exists at the top of the populace’s current body of work. These are the images produced by those who know the science of the trade and practice it with a passion, every day. You see their work in the giant metro papers, but also in galleries. The composition, if you will, is there. A nice picture, that on closer inspection tells a story that demands your attention and stirs your emotions.
Today, JJIE introduces Bokeh, what you might call our fine arts site. Here is a place where some very fine still images will reside, along with photo essays and written essays on the art of photography.
Some of this work will include those at top of the field. On Monday, we begin publishing photographer Richard Ross’ work. Ross spent five years photographing and interviewing some 1,000 inmates in youth detention centers all across the country.
Other work on Bokeh (the name roughly means, ‘the aesthetic quality of the blur in that part of the unfocused image’) includes our own. Today, a photo essay, “Saturday in the Park,” by JJIE photographer Clay Duda runs on the site. This is our attempt to capture the voices and thoughts of kids on common, but important, questions of the day. (Click here or see the introduction to the essay below.)
And finally, through our partnerships with groups such as VOX Teen Communications, you’ll see the work of young photographers, the way they see the world and the issues dominant in their lives.
Youth as its subject and the quality of the work are the common threads in the photography of the professionals, the up-and-coming photojournalists and the dedicated beginners congregating on Bokeh.
What you see on Bokeh is meant to be craft, strong and compelling, a home for the best work on the issues of juvenile justice.