Pangæa Reunion


Richard Ross

1. The court says I got to be here four months. I’m here for burglary, and I got ten open cases or more of past burglaries. I’ve been here six times, I think more. My parents don’t live together. I never attended school outside the center. I went to a program called CAT [a youth outreach program] and spent six months in a moderate risk program. I have three brothers and a younger sister. Another sister died when she was very young. —A.N., age 18 Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Miami, Florida.

2. I spent a year at TGK [Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center]. I was at the center for nine days on charges of home invasion, kidnapping, armed carjacking, aggravated assault, battery, and armed battery. All the charges were dropped to juvenile. If the charges had been filed as adult, I could get ten years’ prison time. I’ll probably serve three years — half of that if I behave well. In TGK, I was never able to touch my mom. After my first release from the center, she hugged me for the first time in over a year and we both cried and cried. All the visitation here is in the gym. It’s set up for a hug with a parent and then you can sit holding hands. —S.M., age 15 Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Confinement Unit, Miami, Florida.

3. Cook County Detention in Chicago, Illinois. Each floor is one mile around. The basketball court gives a sense of the scale.

4. No one has visited me here. No one. I’m not here for a status violation. They got me charged with more than that. I talk to the judge tomorrow. I have to touch the wall for doing what they call “antisocial” behavior — only a “procedure violation,” nothing big. I’ve been touching the wall for a while now. Doesn’t matter what part of the wall I touch as long as I have some part of me on the wall. I am trying to get some sleep here. —J.B., age 17 Hale Ho’omalu Juvenile Hall, in downtown Oahu, Hawaii, built in the 1950s, now closed.

5. Ethan Allen School, Wales, Wisconsin.

6. L.T., age 15, first time in custody, at King County Youth Service Center, Seattle, Washington

7. I was 13 years old with my boyfriend. We were both extremely high. We were burglarizing a house in the high desert. The owners came in… and the crime escalated. I’ve been in this cell since I was 14, sharing it with another woman ever since. I think it’s seven by ten. I’ve been eligible for parole, but on four different occasions the families of the victims were present to speak against my release. If it was my family, I would do the same, but I am a different person at 20 than the drugged child I was at 13. Now I’m the head of a women’s firefighting unit that works with locals and assists in brush clearing, mud slides, and forest fires. I’m due for release in four years and three months. I age out of the system. They have to let me go when I turn 25. —C.H., age 20 Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, Camarillo, California

8. A cell in P-Hall, the transitional unit at King County Youth Service Center in Seattle, Washington. Juveniles go to P-Hall after intake for evaluation and hall placement. More difficult kids also dorm here when they need more supervision. P-Hall has very high ceilings to prevent kids from breaking off sprinkler heads.

9. I live at home with my mother, ten-year-old brother, and stepfather. I don’t know my real father. I hate school and have been suspended. I spend my time at home hanging with my friends. I have two older brothers and one older sister, all in their twenties, and they all don’t live at home. I have been at King County for about a week and have been here three other times. They’re thinking of moving up my charges to Robbery one. I might be going to a decline status, not an auto decline, a person-on-person crime. I might be going to Residential Treatment Center to break the detention cycle… they tell me. —D.P., age 16 King County Juvenile Detention Center, Seattle, Washington.

10. Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center, Mendota, Wisconsin