2015 Photo Contest, Portraits, 1st prize

Miracle Village


Sofia Valiente

Fabrica, courtesy of Daniel Blau, Munich/London

21 December, 2013

Rose is the only female offender in the Miracle Village community, but says the stigma of being a sex offender no longer bothers her, and that the men look to her as a sister.

Miracle Village, on the southeast corner of Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, in the midst of sugarcane fields and five miles from the nearest town, houses a community of 100 sex offenders. It was set up by an evangelical pastor, Dick Witherow, as a sanctuary for people he terms ‘modern-day lepers’—subject to lifelong restrictions on their movements, which often leave them few options of where to live. Residents of Miracle Village include people sentenced for offences such as the possession of child pornography, and a man who at the age of 18 had sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. Many are tagged with ankle monitors, must obey a nighttime curfew, and cannot own a laptop or mobile phone.

About the photographer

Sofia Valiente

Sofia Valiente received her BFA in art from Florida International University in Miami, Florida in 2012. She recently published her first photo book, Miracle Village, while at a r...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
35.0 mm
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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