Jerome at 15. © Zora Murff
Hey y’all. You might have heard about the launch of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering America’s criminal justice system. You might also recall that I was excited by the launch.
Excited because I think we’ll all benefit from having focused, smart and quirky analysis of America’s carceral, criminal and correctional territories. But, excited also, because I’ll be contributing features of photographers’ work.
My first piece about Zora Murff, Tracked: A Photographer Reveals What It’s Like To Be A Kid In The System was published this week.
Here’s an excerpt.
In addition to slinging his camera, Murff works as a “tracker” for a program that provides low-risk juveniles alternatives to incarceration. He coordinates transportation to therapy and counseling sessions, contacts schools to make sure that the juveniles are attending classes, collects urine samples for drug tests, and monitors the juveniles’ locations through data from their ankle bracelets.
“My job is to be a consequence, to insert myself into their lives while the adolescents themselves are struggling to exert control over their development,” says Murff who wanted to capture how juveniles in the system are supervised and monitored, and how the resulting lack of privacy can impact their development.
“Cameras are typically used by the state to surveil,” he says. “I too am recording, but my camera is there in a collaborative capacity. I feel that the people I’m photographing have taken back a level of control.”
If you want to learn more about Zora Murff’s work you might be interested in this long interview I did with Murff on Prison Photography in January, 2014.
I really can’t recommend enough the daily newsletter of criminal justice news put together by The Marshall Project’s Andrew Cohen. It’s called Opening Statement and it brings together the best links and most pressing stories. Indispensable. Get it!