Juveline in Justice
1. I got kicked out of school for partying and truancy. I use meth. They have had me here for two weeks. I think they keep me here because they think I am a risk of hurting myself. When they want to come in, they come in, they don’t knock or anything — this is the observation room. There are five other girls here I think for things like running away and curfew violations…lewd and lascivious conduct, selling meth, robbery, weed… stuff like that. —C.T., age 15 Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center, Caldwell, Idaho.
2. I am a transgender female. They have me living in an isolation area for the past seven months I think to protect me against suicide, but also keep me sort of away from the other girls. I live on the street with older friends who are part of “that life.” They’re mostly people who are positive about who I am but also got involved in stuff like burglary, drugs, and prostitution. I don’t mind being separate from the other girls, but I miss the interaction. —A.S., age 17 Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF), Kailua, Hawaii.
3. I have two more days here, or less, then I go to an adult facility. I was convicted (with several co-defenders) of killing one of my friends’ mother. I was 16, and it was a series of events — bad peer pressure and alcohol. The oldest of my friends — co-conspirators — was convicted on four counts. He was over 18 at the time so he was convicted as an adult. He has successfully appealed three of the convictions and had them overturned. He’s waiting for the results of the last appeal. I’m the only one out of the four kids involved that received life without parole. I want to apply for clemency but can’t find an attorney that would take it pro bono. I don’t have the money for an appeal. I thought I might get 30 years to life but ended up with life without parole. I was convicted right after Measure 11 passed, from a small town where they wanted to set an example of how to punish juveniles. It appears that the Department of Corrections has become the Department of Punishment. We went to Canada and were at the border in a stolen car after we planned for about four or five hours how to kill the mother. We fled and were stopped at the Canadian side. I was brought back and interrogated by one woman and two male detectives from Oregon. I am not sure if I was Mirandized. There was no one that advocated for me in the room while I was being questioned. I have been here seven years with DOC rather than OYA. I age out of here in two months and hope I go to Salem, where I might have the friendship and protection of Chris Cringle, who is somewhat notorious … look him up. I can either give up or try and do something with my life. I took a lot, so I am trying to give back by having received a paralegal degree through Blackstone. My biological mother and stepdad were a very bad crowd. My stepfather was a scummy street person. I’ve been given two life sentences. — S.P., age 24 MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Woodburn, Oregon.
4. I’ve been here a week this time. I’m on court order to stay isolated from the other kids. I was in foster care for about 11 years and now I am adopted. They got me for residential burglary when I was in seventh grade, but since then it has been lots of probation violations — late for school, not appearing for my P.O., stuff like that. Drug Court probably saved my life. My mom is into drugs and my dad was deported to the Philippines. I have three sisters but we are all split up. The only person who visits me is my YMCA drug counselor. Lunch? It was junk. —C.C., age 16 Hale Ho’omalu Juvenile Hall, in downtown Oahu, Hawaii, built in the 1950s, now closed.
6. Juveniles in the Challenge Program sit in their cells at the Juvenile Detention Facility, El Paso, Texas.
7. A female juvenile with scars from cutting herself that read “Fuck Me.” At Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, Reno, Nevada.
8. I’ve been here three days. I was charged with running away from a group home. And also larceny and seven more runaway charges. I took my mom’s car and then tried to evade police. So I got an assault. My dad lives with my stepmom — both are heavy drinkers. My dad is a construction worker. My stepmom takes all my dad’s attention. She’s an accountant. My mother gave up custody of me last year. She is schizo, bipolar with psychotic tendencies. She works at a hospital. The eye? I got into a fight with my girlfriend. She punched me so hard I went flying across the room and got a road rash on my shoulder. My eye looks a lot better now. I got hit two weeks ago. My girlfriend is a big track and volleyball player. She hit me because I used to have drug and alcohol problems. I said I would stop drinking, but I came into her house drunk. She lives with our best friend, E. She was living with her family, but they moved away and left her. I hope E’s mother will adopt me or at least be my guardian. Before this incident I got Bs and Cs in school. It is pretty difficult being gay and Christian in a land of homophobes. Actually it’s pretty impossible here. — A.B., age 14 Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center, Oklahoma.
9. I been here for three years and ten months and haven’t been to trial yet. My mother tried to stab me and kill me when I was asleep so I ran out of the house. I’m here on 12 charges: two armed carjackings, armed robbery, armed burglary, eight burglary, sexual battery, and gang charges. I don’t blame nobody, I just made a mistake. I was 13. —R.F., age 17 Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, Miami, Florida.
10. I’m here on medical transition from Miller Camp. I was there eight months. I’m in on three different second-degree robberies. My tats? I’m in the Fruit Town BRIMS (Black Revolutionary Independent Mafia Soldiers), part of the VNG (Van Ness Gangers). I want to go to Morehouse when I get out of here. —M.T., age 17 Central Juvenile Hall, Los Angeles, California.