Girls behind bars tell their stories

When photographer Richard Ross wants to talk to a child at a juvenile detention center, he knocks on their cell door. He asks them if he can come inside.

The 67-year-old Californian is used to taking off his shoes when he enters homes, so he does the same in a cell.

“Most of the kids, they’ve never had that kind of respect,” he said. “But I give it to them, I give them the power. I sit on the floor so they’re looking down on me.”

Ross doesn’t begin by hammering them with questions. He wants to have a conversation.

The result of that tenderness and patience is Ross’ latest collection of photos, “Girls in Justice.”

The images are unflinching. They convey the ugliness of a young person’s life behind bars.