When Richard Ross began going into juveniles’ jail cells, often sitting on the concrete floor and asking inmates about their lives, he was shocked at what he found.In Texas, he learned, it wasn’t out of the norm for 10-year-olds to be behind bars.
“And that stopped me,” The University of California — Santa Barbara professor told PBS NewsHour. “That really staggered me.”
But the most shocking revelation of all was that kids as young as 7 were housed in juvenile facilities.
Currently, there are more than 70,500 juveniles imprisoned in the U.S., according to the Huffington Post, which first brought Ross’ pictures to our attention.
Ross toured more than 300 prison sites in 30 states and interviewed more than 1,000 kids and administrators.
Ross photographed the young inmates going about their daily lives, including taking classes and living in their cells.
The juvenile inmates spend six and a half hours a day in a classroom, which for “some of these kids, it’s the best educational experience possible for them,” Ross said.
“Many of the population have special ed. needs,” Ross told PBS Newshour. “It’s not always met.”
What struck Ross most was that most of the inmates came from families with limited expectations, so they expected little from themselves in turn.
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