2015 Photo Contest, Portraits, Stories, 1st prize

Miracle Village

Photographer

Sofia Valiente

Fabrica, courtesy of Daniel Blau, Munich/London

21 January, 2014

Until he was 18, Richard had a bad stutter, which was worse when he talked to women. He says that when he discovered internet chat-rooms, which meant he could communicate without talking, he felt it was the greatest thing ever.

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
1/125
Focal length
35.0 mm
F-Stop
5.6
ISO
1000
Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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