my visit to the juvenile prison
So I have come to realize that my posts always have something to do with criminals. But I've realized seeing how my major is criminal justice, I work for a criminal law attorney, and I volunteer at the DUI van, most of my time is consumed with nothing but criminality. It's okay tho, I like it.
My Juvenile Justice class got to go on a tour of one of the Juvenile Correctional facilities last night and it was an experience. A sad one to say the least. We went to the Adobe Mountain School, which is the largest facility of the 4 in Arizona and this one was held for boys, there are 260 kids at this particular school. The facilities are set up kind of like a capus, they have their housing units, then school units, a medical unit, a food unit, a seperation unit, a pool, football field, basketball court, and some other things. We first went into the sex offender housing unit. We walked in and the boys were just sitting around in the common area waiting for their turn to take a shower, once done they had to stand by their door untill everyone was done and they were let back into their rooms for the night. I expected to see hard looking criminals, but these were just kids. Young teenagers who you would see everyday. I couldn't imagine what had brought these kids to this current location, but it was almost hard to believe because they were just kids. They would wave to us and try to catch our attention bc its not everyday they see a big group of college students. They have treatment programs in this unit designed specifically for sex offenders and they say its very successful.
We also went into a substance abuse unit where all the kids housed there are all dependent on drugs/alcohol. There are 32 kids in this unit and they have their own specialized program to help them deal with their drug problems. Again the boys were just walking around, some in their rooms some taking showers. They had a common area and one boy came out and brought us all chairs without anyone even asking him to do so. He was so polite and my heart just felt so bad for him and the other kids here. We went into a room, and its a tiny room w/ a bed and a desk. They have to keep their rooms clean, beds made, stuff off the floor... they are allowed pictures, some are allowed radios if they have good behavior. If they needed out to go to the bathroom they had to yell for an officer to unlock their door and let them out, then had to be let back in their room. The kids would stare at us through their windows, wave, make faces, just being kids. An officer told us in that unit the drug they see kids using the most is meth, and it messes them up the most. They also see alot of marajuana and heroine use. Again, these kids looked like normal kids, I can't imagine how their lives were on the outside. They are checked on every 15mins during the night to make sure they are not misbehaving, their rooms are searched 3 times a day for contraband.
Some may say, why do you feel bad for them? They chose to make these bad decisions and this is why they are here. However, I disagree. Most of the kids come from families who don't give them the love and attention they need. Either because their parents are drug adicts, gang members, or in prison. Most of these kids have been born into gangs and drugs and they don't know anything else. Their gang is their family because no one else looks after them. These kids don't know anything but the life of a crime/drugs and so that's why the end up in juvy. Which is often times a much better place than where they come from. When a kid is released because they have completed their program and staff decides they are fit to be released into the community, most will re-offend because they are going back to that bad environment they came from. I think these kids are lucky to be in the facility because there they are given the opportunity to change, to get help, to talk about their problems and issues and learn how to cope with them. They also go to school and can get their diploma or GED, which most when they come into the facility have the education of a 7th grader. My heart went out to the kids here and I just wanted to give each of them a hug because they probably haven't had one in months if ever. It seems like they just need someone to love them and be there for them and support them and they would be able to live a normal life. Unfortunately, a lot of them don't have that and are probably going to be in and out of prison their entire life. I cant say that is is the case for each kid because it is not. Some have families who love them and visit them and the kid is just a jerk and won't do the right thing. But most aren't lucky enough to have a good family support system and it is heart breaking. I feel like I live in this perfect buble and am so lucky to have a great family and friends who look out for me and correct me if I make mistakes. When I am exposed to the reality of some peoples lives it makes me want to do something to help. This is part of the reason why I want to go to law school. I want the opportunity to help people who are in terrible situations and get them back on their feet and to change their life.
Sorry this is so long............. I have so much more to talk about from my visit at the prison but I'll save it for another time haha cuz this is getting lengthy. But I just wanted to let you have a feel for what is it like on the otherside, and let you see a little bit of why I do the things I do!