Juvenile Detention Ruins Minors For Life

Source: Michael Korchia on Flickr

The youth are our greatest commodity. We have left them a crappy world to live in because of the greed of certain corporations. It will be up to them to fix the problems we created. But all children are not created equally. Not all children have the good fortune to be born in good neighborhoods or go to good school in districts that have effective teachers. Which of these teachers are willing to teach kids who are raised in poverty with all the effects that come with it? The NRA has an agenda that insists everyone has a right to carry a gun. Teachers should carry. Students at universities should carry. They want everyone to carry a gun.  Everyone means everyone. In some neighborhoods that means kids won’t survive very long because they all carry guns.  More guns does not fix a gun problem.  Where does it stop? How does it stop?

Most of these youths don’t come from stable homes with two parents, or even one parent.  Many are in foster homes. Kids don’t ask to be born into violence, and they have no one to teach them a better way of life.  They certainly don’t see a better way of life around them. The easiest way to deal with these children is for us to lock them up and throw away the key. They become the next batch of adult inmates the corporations use as money makers. The justice system doesn’t have enough help to deal with these kids. One probation officer may have up to 200 kids to monitor. How is that possible? It isn’t, so the kids become fodder. They slip through the cracks. There is no easy answer. But the bottom line is – these kids are people. They weren’t “born bad”. They were born without someone to give a shit. My question to you is: What are You going to do to help? I read what people say on facebook, when they shoot off their mouths about how fetus is a baby, even if it is only a 24 hour old clump of cells and that “baby” has a right to be born! That baby has the right to have a life, too, don’t you think? Or do you think, BFD, it’s not my problem. If you are going to take the time to adamantly, and even violently, vocalize your opinion that this baby has to be born, because that is what God wants, then you should also be prepared to do something to make sure this baby has a decent chance at a good life. You shouldn’t want one without the other. Not your problem? Did these kids deserve a chance the moment they were born? How does the overcrowding of prisons – paid for with your taxes – ever change if we don’t do something.

We hear, “Let’s Make America Great Again!” Fancy words that have absolutely no meaning if everyone waits around for someone else to do something. What’s the plan? All I hear are words and campaign hype. What are you going to do to help this country? Many people are all talk and no action. If we don’t raise the youth to be better, then nothing changes and we continue to implode.

Those who declare every baby has the “Right to Life”, should be saying, “Every baby has the right to have a good life.” We can’t  insist people have to be born just for the sake of being born. There needs to be an agenda going with it which enables unwanted children to at least have a chance to be something other than profit for prison corporations. But there are no programs to enable children to have that.  Most of the budget for this country goes into the military, instead of going into quality of life for the people.  We all complain about the things our government doesn’t do for us.  Us – means everyone. If all people do is complain, it never fixes anything.

I’ve heard people say, “No one made these kids commit a crime. They had a choice. But they have no wisdom, and no one to teach them right from wrong. Neither did you, when you were a kid. For many, there is no one to teach them. No one checks their homework or even knows if they went to school that day.  The school to prison pipeline is a very real thing.  There is no one at home to feed them, or buy them clothing.   Many steal or sell drugs for these things.  No one encourages them. If you are someone who believes that every clump of impregnated cells deserves to live, yet you do NOTHING to actually help one of these children have a life, then your negativity about abortions is meaningless, because you don’t do anything to help . If all life is precious – it includes these kids, too, whether they come from your home town, or from the ghetto.

Once these kids go through juvenile detention, experiencing the same physical abuse, Young offender, kids in prison, juvenile incarcerationsexual abuse, lack of mental illness help, and little chance of an education, they will never have a life most of us would consider “Normal”.  Isn’t that a shame?  You fought so hard for them to be born.  If you care about the welfare of children, yet do nothing to help even one of them, then your opinion also means nothing. If you think they deserve to get life sentences because they had a life where no one showed them how life had value – “Get this broken child off the streets!”, then your opinion has no value. If you believe you are a compassionate person, yet have no compassion, what does that make you?

I know there are people who care. Maybe you want to do something, but don’t know what. If you are reading this online, then you can research options. You can write letters to organizations, or letters to editors. You can express yourself among your friends. You can befriend kids. You can stop assuming all black kids are thugs. You can volunteer at a school. You can help with homework. There is so much you can do. If you have a positive effect on the life of even one child, the ripple effect can spread to many others. Stop complaining about crime and start doing something to help change it.

kids in handcuff
photo source: bordc.org

When they were taken to juvenile court no one cared. Many were moved from one abusive foster parent to another. When they started doing petty crimes no one cared. When they ended back in juvenile court, the courts were too swamped and probation officers never checked on them to see if they were in school. They were sent to home probation. No one cared.

The saddest casualties of this rush to throw as many people in prison as possible, are the children. Yes, children often do serious crimes. Many of these kids were thrown away.  They had abusive, neglectful, or addicted parents. Many were raised by the state and the only mentoring they got was from other, often young, people in the same shoes. These are ” at risk kids” with no wisdom, and no understanding of what they were doing to their lives and it doesn’t have to be that way. It is so sad. It rips my heart out.

Only their friends cared. Their barrio, their homies protected each other. They survived.  The courts often did nothing.  There was no time or resources to get these kids the help they needed. There are too many of them. The crime rate by children soared. Then one day the child finally did something really bad and this time they noticed. Now the court said,

“You are a horrible child, you’ve been in trouble for years. We told you to stay in school and you didn’t. You can’t be helped. We’re going to send you over to adult court, and they can deal with you.”  What a relief they felt.

22 States certify children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court. By now their lives are lost. They become habitual offenders. They know no other life. They have no idea what it feels like to being loved, cared for, and raised to be the best they can be. 70% of all foster children end up in prison, and female foster children are 600x more likely to have a baby they struggle to raise on their own, but now they have someone who loves them unconditionally.

What are we going to do about this?

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Sign up on the email list for the book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” currently being written about the troubled youth of Jamie Cummings that led to 17 years in prison of which he currently has 7 to go.  Learn how he turned his life around.  When he gets out, he wants to work with kids to teach them how not to do what he did.  It is so hard to reintegrate into society and have a good life.  Prejudice against ex-felons makes it hard to live.  Proceeds from this book will help him get started again.

Kids or Criminals? Growing up and getting out – a very important entry!

Young offender, kids in prison, juvenile incarcerationThe saddest casualties of this rush to throw as many people in prison as possible, are the children. Yes, children often do serious crimes. Many of these kids were thrown away by abusive, neglectful, or addicted parents. Many were raised by the state and the only mentoring they could get was from other, often young, people in their same shoes. They were ” at risk kids” for a long and no one paid attention. Kids with no wisdom, no real understanding of what they were doing to their lives. So so sad. It rips my heart out.

When they were delinquent at school no one cared. When they were taken to juvenile court no one cared. Many were moved from one abusive foster parent to another. When they started doing petty crimes no one cared. When they ended back in juvenile court, the courts were too swamped and probation officers never checked on them to see if they were in school. They were sent to home probation. No one cared.

Only their friends cared. Their barrio, their homies protected each other. They survived. No one taught them right from wrong and no one punished them. The courts often did nothing.  There was no time or resources to get these kids the help they needed. There are too many of them. The crime rate by children soared. Then one day the child finally did something really bad and they noticed. Now the court said,

You are a horrible child, you’ve been in trouble for years. We told you to stay in school and you didn’t. You can’t be helped. We’re going to send you over to adult court and they can deal with you.

22 States certify children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court. By now their lives are lost. They often become habitual offendersrs. They know no other life. They have no idea what a life is like being loved and cared for and raised to be the best they can be. 70% of all foster children end up in prison and female foster children are 600x more likely to have a baby they struggle to raise.

Although this is a different issue – pro lifers, abortion abolitionists have no concern for a baby after it is born. They only want it born. Life is sacred they say. But when these babies are discarded because they can’t be cared for their life is not so sacred anymore. Now they want them thrown in the trash.  We did this. Many of these children didn’t have to turn out this way. These babies often end up as one of these children and it is a goddamn crying shame.

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Children in Prison WHY THEY ARE THERE?

Kids or Criminals?

Growing up and getting out

 http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2015/kids-or-criminals/

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Juvenile Detention – A Cry For Help

Armando Macias artwork

Unless you have a child – or know a child who is “at-risk” you don’t give it much thought. We read a lot about gangs and the violence that comes from it be we don’t understand why it happens or about the kids that get caught up in in it. The violence has increased so much over the years and the court system that is supposed to take care of it – can’t – it so the easiest thing to do is to either look the other way, or lock them up and get them off the street. What they don’t do is get them the help they need at a time where some of them can be saved. Juvenile courts are too chaotic. The don’t have the manpower or the resources adult courts have. Many crimes can’t be proven. Witnesses don’t show up. The reschedule court dates so often the people involved give up and don’t show up. When that happens the case is dismissed. Finally the kids are old enough to push over to adult court and have them tried there. So many of these kids are crying out for help and no one gives a crap. Case loads are so heavy they don’t have time.

If you live in a city that has a lot of gang activity, the kids who don’t have parents who end up in foster care also end up getting sucked into the life of a gang because at least now they have people in their life who care about them. Many of these people came from the same broken homes. They know how that feels. This cycle keeps churning out people who have to survive somehow. They don’t have educations. They can’t get good jobs. So, for them, crime pays. They start making regular visits to juvenile court, but there is no help. If they had been helped their life could have been different. ‘

States have gone back and forth over when it is okay to try kids as adults, especially when they do adult type crimes. Finally they have released the harm it causes to keep them in solitary confinement. Why anyone thinks it isn’t harmful to adults is beyond me. Maybe because by that time most of them have lives that are already ruined. To ruin someone so young with isolation gives that minor no chance. It’s such a shame that it had to take Kalief Browder committing suicide when he got out, to wake “them” up from the outcry from the public. America won’t even admit we keep keep adults in solitary for the decades we do. We don’t torture inmates they say.

It is easy to see that the way we deal minors only makes certain that when they get out, they will be full fledged criminals because they have no concept of how to live. They have more than likely never experienced anything close to having a normal life. I say “more than likely” because there has been a greater trend toward children coming from “good” homes and still deciding that the life of a “gangsta” has more appeal and excitement. But just like the sentences given out to older criminals, those children are looked at as having more promise and worth rehabilitating and get more breaks within the system. What helps is they have family support who show up at court hearings and typically hire real attorneys who have gone over their cases and planned a strategy so they don’t end up in prison at 16. Most juvenile offenders don’t get to see their attorney until the are sitting at a desk in front of the judge who will decide whether they stay in the juvenile system or proceed to prison.

If they go to prison they are subject to the same system as adults, which means, no rehabilitation and being subjected to adult predators. They come out with a felony record they will never escape from. Education becomes extremely hard to get and their spiral down happens quickly. The law isn’t set up to benefit minors. Juvenile courts are not allowed to consider why the child is there. What is his background? They can only look at the offense. But where do these kids come from? Why did it get to the point wher3e it became hopeless? Why wasn’t the child helped when there was plenty of time to do it, but feet were dragged and nothing was done?

These kids became a lost society, kept out of view. They eventually became found a home in prison with the same people they were with on the outside; friends back with friends. They never had anyone who cared so they gravitated to the only people who loved them, people like themselves. Of course there are exceptions. There are kids that just seem determined ruin any chance they had. They go against what their parents tried to provide for them who don’t understand what they did wrong or couldn’t see in time to fix. Maybe there was nothing that could be done. But I want to talk about those who had no choice. Those who were born into a life that pushed them into a life of crime because it was all they knew.

I write to several inmates about their life and how they feel about where they are. I want to tell you about one who recently confided in me:

“I want to explain the way culture and the environment I lived in all my life formed my outlook. Blacks are not the only ones being racially targeted.  Growing up I remember if white people in cop cars saw you they were going to stop you.  I remember that no matter what, you would be searched.  Driving, they’d pull you over.   It didn’t matter if there was a reason to pull you over. If you ran and they caught you they’d beat you, so you ran faster and you didn’t get caught. Staying there to find out meant you would probably go to jail. Innocence is not a factor.  Never was, and it still isn’t.

I’m from the ghetto.  There were foothills nearby.  At times we’d see the KKK burning crosses in front of black people’s houses.  That stopped in the 80’s.  In 1992 there were the LA riots because Rodney King was beat up by cops.  Only when I received my first prison sentence and reached my 20’s did I learn about the laws.  They weren’t even supposed to be allowed to stop and search us for no reason, but the law never seems to apply to the police.

In prison, on paper, they say there are rehabilitation programs.  They say that, but in reality there aren’t any.  I wanted to go to school.  I wanted to learn a better of living but I soon learned that it didn’t mean me.  There was no rehabilitation for people like me.

There is a mentality you learn growing up and living like that. The chances of people escaping that life is small.  Most don’t.  I’m one of the ones who didn’t escape.  all those programs for “at-risk” kids never existed back then. I don’t know many kids benefit from them today.  Everyone went to jail.  Punks went to jail.  I accepted that mentality.  It was all I knew. It didn’t scare me.  In fact, jail was a vacation from an abusive home.  Violence was normal to me, so gangbanging was no biggy.

When you see very few people you know not go to jail and many of them die, it become normal.  When I got out of jail the first time all my good intentions faded in a second.  I got out wanting to do good, but when you encounter a hugh problem, who you really are comes out. Your intentions disappear.  It’s engraved in you.

So you ask, why did I go back to prison?  Why is it that if I knew the consequences, why am I here?  Because that is how it was. I had no place else to go.  It is the only experience I knew.”

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This man was raised in a violent home where he got beat every day.  There was violence all around him.  He didn’t have parents who made sure he had good food every day and went to school.  There was no Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.  There were no family Thanksgiving dinners and birthday parties.  The kids I grew up with all had these things.  We had families that cared.  I’m sure violence existed but it never entered in my life.  If you had his life what would you do?  You would bond with other kids who had a life who could relate to yours.  They were your family.  You never really knew there was any other kind of life you could experience.  There was no choice.  You would end up in prison.

There many kids who don’t have families.  Maybe the state took them away because of drugs and neglect.  Many of the parents died and there was no place for the kids to go.  We have all heard horror stories.  The juvenile system is overloaded with kids who have no place to go.  They get shifted between multiple foster home which are also rife with drug abuse and violence. There aren’t enough case workers who can take the time to care even if they wanted to.  Nothing is done in a timely manner.  Even when there is someone who is willing to take these kids in, the paperwork is insurmountable.  The kids get lost in the system.  They find themselves in and out of court until eventually they get old enough to prosecute.  One more person locked up. Another one to take his place.

80% of those incarcerated went through the foster care system.  Those are scary numbers.  Doesn’t that tell you that if there were a better way of dealing with these throw away kids the prison population would go down?  Isn’t it time something better should be done? Haven’t we had enough generations of throwaway kids?

Here is an excellent article about what happens to kids we lock up. Why Do We Still Put Kids In Shackles When They Go To Trial

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Prison, We Must Do Better for At-Risk Teens

Jamie started in the school to prison pipeline at the age of sixteen because a cop had a vendetta against his family. He literally pushed his way into their home, knocked his mother down and broke her wrist. Jamie defended his mother. Was that enough reason to put him in juvenile detention until he was 21, unable to get even a GED? What kind of job was he supposed to get. He might have legally been an adult, but he had no experience to draw on. He had also spent extended time in solitary confinement. In Juvy it was called “Behavior Modification Program” or BMP.

teens a risk, school to prison pipelineI recently started reading a book that was published in 1997. The title is, “No Matter How Loud I Shout -A Year In The Life Of Juvenile Court” – by Edward Humes. It takes place in juvenile courts in LA. The courts then, and now have no idea how to handle children criminals. Some are hardened criminals while still in their early teens and some get mixed up in something and learn their lesson. Some come from the streets and some come from the middle and upper middle income families where they have every opportunity a child could want. The conflict is when to prosecute them as adults. There can’t be one rule that covers everything that changes at an exact moment yet this is what they try to do. Are kids responsible for their actions and at one age. Some get their lives ruined and some get let go until the next crime they commit. It’s a tough call.

During this time this book was written I lived in LA until my children were teens. I went through rough times with my kids. When my son and daughter were 15 and 18 we moved away. I had to get them away. Educating them in public schools was impossible. I pulled them out of bad schools and put them in other bad schools hoping they would be better. But the writing was on the wall if we stayed. We loved north to a small town. My son got his act together and started working hard. My daughter got pregnant and had her first baby at 16.

When I read today about the juvenile courts in LA in the 90’s, knowing how easily it could have been my children I was reading about, it is scary. Today they are 35 and 38 and they have their own teenagers to worry about. It is much worse it today than it was in the 90’s. Kids have less and less respect for teachers or anyone in a position of authority. So many have less respect for themselves as well. They were never taught respect in their homes. Many parents wanted to be “friends” with their children instead of parents. These teenagers I am reading about in this book are in their 30’s now. Are they alive? Are they in prison?

As parents we want to say it won’t happen to our children. It does, and when they grab hold of your child, or your grandchildren, the system doesn’t plan on letting go until they have sucked every possible way of making money from them.  Look at Jamie. He is now 32. He STILL doesn’t have a GED. Without that, how can he take other educational courses? How can he learn about something he is interested in when he doesn’t even know what that is?

Are there bad kids out there? Absolutely. Bad parents in bad neighborhoods, and bad parents in good neighborhoods. Some parents don’t want to believe their child would do these things, but they do. There is a saying, “If you continue to do what you always done you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.” Parents need to have a better perception of the life outside their children are exposed to. There is no one protecting them. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are from or how much money you make. Some of the things my children tell me now they did 20 years ago had my jaw on the floor, similar to the things I told my parents long after the fact. We were lucky. Really lucky. Not everyone is.

In the past few years “The Law” has upped the ante. Now, instead of handling disciplinary issues that previously called for detention, being sent to the principle’s office or parents were called – now it is the police who called, who come and handcuff the children in the classroom and escort them out. Quite often the police are already located on school grounds replacing guidance counselors. They are also often taken into a courtroom in handcuffs, too. Why? Do the officers fear for their safety or is it for effect? Often the reason is not justified and does untold damage to the child’s self-esteem. Sadly, this affects black children more than it does white children and even Hispanic children. White children learn early in life that black is not as good as white and they carry that attitude into their adult lives and a new generation of racist attitudes is born.

An already bad situation with juvenile courts has been made worse. More adult criminals are cultivated. Black children learn their lives don’t have as much value. The juvenile courts are so overcrowded. There is no time for anyone to care. We need to do more to help in some way. Too many people are short in help and long in opinions and the children are thrown under the bus.

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CHILDREN IN SHADOW ::: CHILDREN IN WAR

Prison, We Must Do Better for At-Risk Teens

Guest Commentary

Published August 16, 2015

Since the late 1980s, at-risk teens have been subjugated to terrible injustices. Being socially labeled super-delinquents by politicians and media, legally tried as adults under get-tough legislation, and psychologically stunted by zero tolerance in schools and abuse in correctional facilities.

Today, you would imagine that America has found a better way to deal with juvenile delinquency and youth-gang crimes, but unfortunately, many states still implement outdated, misguided policies that continue to funnel teens into the juvenile justice system. This populates our prison systems. And to make matters worse, recidivism keeps increasing this rate—that is, teens become damaged goods after cycling through “the system” and often return to prison as adults.

According the Annie E. Casey Foundation, despite the good intentions and regulations in our system, teens do learn how to become better criminals from inmates, and…

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