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January 2014 Featured Photographer of the Month

A Poor Imitation of Death

Ara OSHAGAN | California, United States

Liz, 21 years old, Chowchilla State (women's) Prison

Why did first-time offender, 18 year-old Duc—an artist and poet—get a life sentence when he did not pull the trigger in a crime where no one was even hurt? And why did Peter, a 17 year-old piano prodigy and private school student, get twelve years in adult prison for breaking and entering? Also his first offense.

Why is the justice system so ruthless on these kids who have so much potential? Why are these kids being discarded from society rather than lead back into it?

A Poor Imitation of Death is their story: a multi-layered and collaborative narrative where the youth’s own writings, drawings and words combine with my photographs to create a unique ‘voice’ that speaks about the realities of youth in prison. It tells a harsh and harrowing story: full of despair, raw emotion and injustice but also of incredible inner strength and huge potential for change.

A Poor Imitation of Death is also a query to us, citizens of the world: do we know what we are doing to our children?

Leslie Neale, filmmaker



Exhibit at OSi's Moving Walls Exhibit




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