“Vinny and David” begins with Vinny, then 13, when he was incarcerated for stabbing his mother’s assailant, and shadows him and his older brother, David, age 19; the long-term photo essay focuses on the brothers’ lives in their family, community and respective incarcerations over five years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The photo reportage also shadows their mother, Eve; her two younger children, Elysia and Michael; David’s girlfriend, Felicia, and their two children.
Vinny, age 13, shares his thoughts sitting in a juvenile detention center in New Mexico. Vinny confides, “When my mom was being beat up, I was so scared. I wanted to defend my mom. I’m tired of seeing my mom get hurt.” While in juvenile detention, Vinny’s older brother, David, age 19, is incarcerated in the adult county jail for the first time in 2012. He has since been incarcerated eight times for aggravated assault, for which he was deemed not guilty; distribution of marijuana; and car theft. David, who was introduced to drug dealing at age ten by his father, has been in and out of juvenile and adult correctional settings. Since 2012, David has been under government surveillance programs, including the pretrial system and probation. Since addiction is criminalized in the U.S., and drug possession charges are harshly treated in conservative states like New Mexico, his addiction, as well as his mother’s, kept them in a cycle of imprisonment. After being separated from his family by the courts from 2012 through 2014, Vinny left his aunt’s home and moved in with David. Vinny, now 18, has a 15-month-old daughter named Jordyn.
Vinny and David have grown up in an environment of loss and yet yearn for love and a restored family. In the midst of turmoil, Vinny and David try to embrace their youth. Vinny describes David as a father figure, and David views Vinny as the only person who appreciates him.