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.
The letters the girls wrote to their families reveal their own voices and 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 and 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. In the past, girls participated in socio-dramas* with Roy Ford, developed performance scripts with theater director Carol Rusoff, and worked 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 the interests of the participants and are process-based.
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