2012 - Ongoing
New Mexico, United States
“I want to go home. I’m not with my mom or my family. I love my older brother more than anybody in the world. I want to spend the night on the moon.” Vinny, just 13, shares his thoughts sitting in a juvenile detention center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinny confides, “When my mom was being beat up, I was so scared. I wanted to defend my mom. I’m tired of seeing my mom get hurt.” While in juvenile detention, Vinny’s older brother, David, age 19, is incarcerated in an adult facility. David, who was introduced to drug dealing at age 10, has been in and out of juvenile and adult correctional systems. After his father went to prison, David spent time in and out of the foster care; eventually, at 14, David's mother, Eve, was given custody. Shortly after Vinny’s release, the court ordered that live with his aunt, three hours from his family in Albuquerque. Just as Vinny’s absence impacts the family, David’s incarcerations leave the family in a culture of loss. When one member is incarcerated, the whole family is too. Powerless to intervene, Eve and David’s girlfriend wait hours for his phone calls, aching for legal decisions and release, sometimes with an unknown date. Incarceration is a solitary and collective experience that leaves profound psychological effects, as it has on Vinny and David’s development. David struggles as he attempts to abandon dealing drugs, wishing to give Felicia, and daughters, Lily and Mary Jane, “everything [he] always wanted…[and end] the whole cycle” Yet, change may, at this point, seem more daunting than remaining in a comfortable chaos. Eventually, after meeting his girlfriend, Krystle, Vinny left his aunt’s home and moved in with David. For the past five years, I have documented the relationship among youth, families and incarceration, focusing on lost intimacy and love as a locus to investigate humanistic elements of the criminal justice system. Vinny and David have grown up in an environment of loss and, yet yearn for love and a restored family. In the midst of turmoil, Vinny and David try to embrace their youth. Vinny describes David as a father figure, and David views Vinny as the only person who appreciates him.