Even as the number of children incarcerated in juvenile facilities continues to decline nationwide, the racial disparity in youth incarceration has grown, according to data from the Department of Justice. As of , African American youth were five times as likely as white youth to be detained or committed to youth facilities. A new fact sheet from the Sentencing Project shows that the racial disparity in youth incarceration has increased since , when Black youth were four times as likely as whites to be incarcerated. From to , juvenile incarceration fell by 54 percent, but white youth incarceration has declined faster than that of Black youth. The national rate of youth incarceration was per ,; the Black youth placement rate was per ,, compared to 86 per , for white youth.
No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons - Predators and Victims
Itivere Enaohwo is a college sophomore, majoring in criminal justice at Texas Southern University, with designs on law school. Her middle and high school days are long in the rear-view window. But she still remembers the humiliation of being singled out — time after time — for dress code violations at a suburban Houston high school. For wearing an oversized T-shirt and leggings in middle school. For wearing a hat on a rainy day — even though it was before school hours. As Enaohwo headed to the bathroom to fix her hair, a teacher ordered her to remove the hat, then grabbed her arm and snatched off the headgear. Every time, Enaohwo noticed that white classmates seemed to get away with similar outfits with no penalty.
The number of kids entering the juvenile justice system has declined steadily in recent years, yet girls continue to represent an ever-growing share of those arrested, detained, and committed to custody. In his latest collection of photographs, Girls in Justice , Richard Ross—who has spent the past eight years documenting incarcerated kids—explores the lives of young women in custody. His haunting photos, taken across different detention facilities, illuminate the difficult circumstances absent caregivers, poverty, physical abuse, sexual violence, etc.
Three years ago, the young man who would later be known as John Doe 1 shuffled into the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. It was still wintery in April, and his state-issued jacket was poor protection against the drafts coming through the broken windows, shattered by men who had passed through before. The rituals of intake were familiar. But he also noticed that he was one of the youngest prisoners on the block.