Above, visiting room, former maximum-security juvenile prison. Unless noted, all photography by JB Nicholas.
“Our credo must be the exposure of the plunderers, the steerers, the wirepullers, the bosses, the brokers, the campaign givers and takers. So I say: Stew, percolate, pester, track, burrow, besiege, confront, damage, level, care.”
— Wayne Barrett, detective for the People.
REPORTER / PHOTOJOURNALIST / FIRST AMENDMENT ADVOCATE
JB NICHOLAS IS AN EX-OFFENDER TURNED REPORTER AND PHOTOJOURNALIST BASED IN NEW YORK CITY, PRIMARILY COVERING CRIME, COURTS, COPS, PRISONS AND BREAKING NEWS. WHEN HE HAS TO, HE DEFENDS HIS RIGHT TO DO HIS JOB AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
His reporting includes an account detailing how the New York State courts and prison system killed a mentally-ill juvenile offender named Benjamin Van Zant; that and two reports on reform efforts helped spur legislation raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18.
He also revealed that New York City was building a new $1 billion jail on Rikers Island, at the same time advocates were pushing for its closure -- work on the new jail was halted upon the publication of the report, and the new jail was eventually cancelled.
Other subjects of his reporting include prison “slave” labor, for-profit policing, the death of a baby born behind bars, rape by prison guards, a mother’s call for justice, and the haunting grief following the fiance of a man who was murdered hours after moving to Chicago.
Writing in the first-person as a witness to the aftermath of the mass school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, he reported what he saw and laid bare the lie told by Alex Jones and other so-called Sandy Hook “truthers” that the shooting never happened.
JB Nicholas's focus on the criminal justice system is no accident -- he was incarcerated from November 1990 until July 2003.
Besides cops, courts and prisons, he has covered environmental groups' successful opposition to "glamping" -- luxury camping -- on public-owned wilderness in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, fracking in Pennsylvania, Confederate icons on public display in the U.S. Capital and in the Bronx, as well as bike messengers' battle against Uber's courier service.
Famously, he beat the actor Russell “Gladiator” Crowe in an impromptu 7.7 mile bicycle race from Manhattan to Brooklyn, photographing him along the way and sharing the story in the New York Daily News.
Besides the Daily News, his news photography has appeared in scores of print, online and broadcast publications around the world, including Paris Match, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, People, Time, The Guardian, Le Monde, The London Times, Daily Mail, The Village Voice, New York Post, Gothamist.com, Oxygen.com, Newsday, The Villager and many others.
His reporting has been published by the Daily Beast.com, The Village Voice, National Public Radio, WNYC, The Appeal.com, Gothamist.com, Narrative.ly, Oxygen.com, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and The Villager.