It is with great pride and a heavy heart I'm interrupting the regular program of snacks, flowers and travel here to present Richard Ross' (aka "dad") latest endeavor: GIRLS INJUSTICE. Over the past 8 years, my father has documented, discovered, and exposed the United States' treatment of incarcerated juveniles through his project, Juvenile Injustice. For this latest book, he's focused on those who suffer the most within this deeply flawed system --the girls. Read on for more info and to view more of his images.

My dad, Richard Ross,  has been my hero since I came into this world -- I don't know anyone with as much energy, enthusiasm and intensity. He's a brilliant photographer, mentor and friend. When he turned his conviction and lens towards incarcerated children almost a decade ago -- those who need a light pointed on them, a voice when they have none, a picture of their world to show judges, lawyers, family members, people in power -- he seemed to take on super human strength, because he had to.

For this project, Ross covered facilities all over the US, months would go by where he was on a plane twice, three times a week darting throughout each region at a moment's notice. Directors said "NO you cannot make pictures here" --  he used that denial as his starting point. He did get in after months of negotiations and headaches, and he sat with girls, transcribing their stories into a notebook, audio recorder and photographed their circumstances. He regularly bakes cookies (chocolate chip, of course) for the kids he visits, many of whom have never had a treat from an oven rather than a package. He cares deeply, immensely about making their lives better and his work is apart of a shift for more humane treatment of Juveniles.

It goes without saying these images are devestating, they show a side of our culture that's hard to acknowledge because it's so scary and sad. I urge you to look and imagine yourself, your daughter, friend, sister and mother locked up here as young as age 8, often with all possibilities lost to her. The reasons these girls are here, the environment they grew up in, is an unfathomable world of abuse, drugs, alcoholism, poverty, depression, self harm, the list goes on and on . . .

Some troubling facts about the girls he's worked with:

  • Girls in custody report nearly two times the rate of past physical abuse, two times the rate of past suicide attempts, and four times the rate of prior sex abuse as boys
  • Escalating sanctions for running away miss the reasons girls run, and consequently miss opportunities to work with girls and their families to resolve underlying issues
  • For girls with histories of abuse, interventions at times of crisis can lead to increased self-injury and use of physical restraints. Interventions can include the presence of male security personnel, being strapped to beds, forced medication, seclusion, precautions that force disrobing, forced physical exams, and body searches.

For more information on how to help and to buy the book visit JUVENILE IN JUSTICE
Preview the book here, GIRLS INJUSTICE


  1. Well, wow. It isn't hard to see where your passion and your enthusiasm comes from my friend. I applaud all that your dad has done and is doing. Art. Works.

  2. Wow. Just. Wow. To shine a light on this takes a great amount of courage, dedication and love. Kudos to your dad!

  3. Wow, Leela, what an incredible post. So many aspects of this bring tears to my eyes, mostly the devotion your dad has for this cause, which is often overlooked or covered up. Seriously, he is an inspiration. It is amazing what one person can do to make change. Seriously, please give him a big hug, the meaningful kind, not the pat-on-the-back kind. ;-) Thank you for taking the time to write this, share your dad's work, and show how change can be made.


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