“I want to change the legislative and judicial practice, and I want to frame the issue for the next generation of people coming up to not accept this as a given,” Ross said.
“Why do you have to put children into these institutions to get them the resources that they need? Why aren't there drug counselors, why aren't there mental health counselors in the communities and the schools that they live in? What's the point in taking them away from their families?”
Juvenile detention centers like the ones documented in Ross' project are most often closed off from public view, and the average person is unaware of what life is like for children in the system, said Elizabeth Maier, assistant professor of criminal justice at The University of Central Oklahoma.
“Mr. Ross' work sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of the American justice system,” Maier said in a news release. “His photographs and future book will provide citizens with an opportunity to see a glimpse on part of the juvenile justice system.”