Acclaimed New York-based photographer Joseph Rodriguez has gone from the fields to the streets to prison gates and back again in his new project on Jesse De La Cruz, whose memoir Detoured traces his long journey from a childhood in a Texas migrant farmworker family to his rough youth running with a gang and shifting in and out of prison, and finally to his current life as an educator, reaching out to his young people as a formerly incarcerated community member.
Here’s an introduction for this collection and the accompanying film, adapted from releasefromdarkness.org:
Jesse De La Cruz, author of the recently published book Detoured: My Journey from Dark to Light, serves as a guide and an intimate narrator of life after reentry. I photographed and interviewed Mr. De La Cruz, as well as his friends and their families who have experienced incarceration and the difficulties of reentering society. De La Cruz grew up in Texas living with his family in a camp for migrant farmworkers, in two one-room cabins with cement floors. He didn’t begin school until he was 7, and his education was disrupted by his family’s need to travel for farm work.
Wanting a different life, De La Cruz joined a gang when he was only 12 years old. He was arrested at ages 12 and 14, and sent to a boys’ camp at 16. From that point on, he was in and out of prison for thirty years, and was released for the last time on April 2, 1996. He also ended a heroin addiction that began when he was 14. After leaving the prison system for the last time, Jesse received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Master’s in Social Work.
He is currently working on his Ed.D at California State University, Stanislaus and teaches criminal justice studies. You can view Jesse’s website at http://jsdconsultations.com/
To see more of Joseph Rodriguez’s photography, go to josephrodriguezphotography.com.
All images copyright Joseph Rodriguez.