The Last of us

‘Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?’ Walt Whitman

Most people think that time is just a feeling, but time is more, it can even become a reality. Minutes can become days, and days can become years, and that’s how it feels for roughly fifty boys detained in a juvenile correctional facility in the west of Hungary. The boys are incarcerated for one to two years. Mostly burglaries and drug-related crimes brought them here. They are between fourteen and eighteen-years-old.

Some became criminals to feed their families or ended up as male prostitutes for the same reason. Many placed here had been living with foster families. Often, their only “crime” was repeatedly missing school and being difficult to raise. Violence is a steady companion for the inmates. For any severe wrongdoing or for the treatment of drug addiction, the boys are placed in solitary confinement, often for days. In the tiny cell, neon lights flicker 24-hours, and the only window – the size of a sheet of paper – is fixed at a height which makes it impossible to look outside. Although wide-ranging research and statistics on the penal system show a clear picture of convicts, particularly adolescents reoffending upon their release, the institution of the prison as we know it is not being questioned at a broader level.

Text by Franz Mock