Winner, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Domestic Photo, 2006
Juvenile crime rates have dropped dramatically since the early 1990s, yet more young people are in juvenile detention today than at any other time in America's history. Most are nonviolent offenders. Many have mental health or substance abuse problems. All have been failed by some combination of their families, schools, churches, and communities. But instead of addressing these young people's needs for treatment, rehabilitation, and basic nurturing, we lock them away in an overburdened juvenile justice system that can do little more than warehouse troubled children.
This courageous work of photojournalism goes inside the system to offer an intimate, often disturbing view of children's experiences in juvenile detention. Steve Liss photographed and interviewed young detainees, their parents, and detention and probation officers in Laredo, Texas. His striking photographs reveal that these are vulnerable children-sometimes as young as ten-coping with a detention environment that most adults would find harsh. In the accompanying text, he brings in the voices of the young people who describe their already fractured lives and fragile dreams, as well as the words of their parents and juvenile justice workers who express frustration at not having more resources with which to help these kids. As Marian Wright Edelman asks in the foreword, "What does it say about us that the only thing our nation will guarantee every child is a costly jail or detention cell, while refusing them a place in Head Start or after-school child care, summer jobs, and other needed supports?" In the best tradition of photojournalism, No Place for Children is a call to action on behalf of America's at-risk youth. 96 duotones