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Juvenile-in-Justice exhibit by photographer Richard Ross opens Sept. 13 at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery

Posted: 08/23/2012

A new, award-winning exhibit by photographer Richard Ross, which documents youth in the juvenile system throughout the United States, comes to Chicago for the first time, opening Thursday, Sept. 13 at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Featuring images taken in detention and correction facilities, treatment centers, group homes, police departments, juvenile courtrooms, shelters, interview rooms, maximum security lock-down and non-lock-down shelters, the exhibit displays the often hidden world of youth incarceration.

An art professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the principal photographer for the Getty Museum and its architectural Villa Project, and a contributor to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, Vogue, La Repubblica and Architectural Digest, Ross recently won the 2012 Best News and Documentary Photography Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for a six-page spread of his juvenile justice work featured in Harper’s Magazine.

Also the winner of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, the recipient of National Education Association and Annie E. Casey Foundation grants and the author of more than a dozen books of photography, Ross will speak about the exhibit during an opening reception being held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 at Gage Gallery.

“At this phase in my career I am turning my lens toward the juvenile justice system and using what I have learned in 40+ years of photography to create a body of work of compelling images to instigate policy reform,” said Ross, who shot nearly 2,000 images of incarcerated youth in the juvenile justice system, with the premise that “My medium is a conscience. My products are photographic and textual evidence of a system that houses, on any given day, over 90,000 kids.”

The exhibit, which protects children’s identities and never shows their faces, shines a light on the American juvenile experience, which includes some of these facts:

  • On any given day, there are approximately 90,000 young people in detention or correctional facilities.
  • The suicide rate is 36 times higher for youths held in adult jails versus juvenile detention facilities.
  • Approximately 75 juveniles are serving life without parole for crimes they committed at 14 years of age or younger.
  • Cost for a typical stay in a juvenile facility is between $66,000 and $88,000 for nine months to a year.
  • Cost for enrollment in community treatment programs for the same duration averages $9,500 or less.

“When we look at the statistics, it is clear that we are incarcerating poor youth, youth of color, and youth with disabilities – and mostly youth who occupy all three of those categories.  These are the same youth being denied access to a fair education.  In the end, the youth are paying the price for our society’s economic, racial, and educational injustice” said Heather Dalmage, Director of the Mansfield Institute and Professor of Sociology.

Sponsored by Roosevelt’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, the exhibit is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit or call 312-341-6458.

Mansfield discussion series on juvenile detention and incarceration will accompany the exhibit, with a number of events held at Gage Gallery from September through December. These events will feature youth, law enforcement, probation officers, advocate attorneys, and other experts in juvenile detainment.  Please visit for complete event information.

These discussions are free and open to the public.  For more information on the discussion series, contact Nancy Michaels, Associate Director of the Mansfield Institute, at