Often in juvenile justice adult “experts” define and determine what is “best” for youth, especially young women. Research on the New York Training School shows evidence of how incarcerated young women were consistently described by individuals other than themselves including the institution, their doctors, parents, and judges. However, the letters the girls wrote to their families reveal their own voices, with distinctive identities that defy the stigmatizing labels of the social welfare bureaucracy. Inspired by these letters and voices, Incorrigibles aims to give young women today a platform to perform/enact scenarios that they define as important to their lives.
We are currently co-creating workshops with young women in and around Hudson, NY and New York City. These workshops provide creative spaces for young women to present visions of themselves and to voice what they would like to see changed in juvenile-justice and social services for girls in New York today, using the lens of history and stories from the Training School for Girls as a metric for a better future. Girls may take part in sociodramas* with Roy Ford, develop performance scripts with theater director Carol Rusoff or work with book artist Beth Thielen to create multi-dimensional sculptural books. Our most recent workshop was wand-making as meditation and self empowerment. The workshops are driven by their interests and are process-based.
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November 15, 2017, 73rd American Society of Criminology Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Hosted Roundtable: Incorrigibles: A Transmedia Public History of Young Women’s Incarceration.