No More Youth Jails

5/21/18

So I’m going to arbitrarily declare myself a bit of an expert on jail being bad. Ya know, as seeing I’ve lived in prison for a decade and spent 15 months in county jail waiting for trial.

Jail’s bad, just saying.

Putting children in jail is not going to help them grow up into responsible adults. What it is going to do is traumatize them, cause them to drop out of school, and cause them to see zero reason to respect anyone who is not apart of their small circle of friends. This trauma, lack of education, and lack of community “buy in” basically guarantees them one of two fates: being carried by six or judged by twelve.

Let’s take each of my three points in turn.

Trauma

Being in jail is an inherently traumatic experience. I have to remind myself on a daily basis to beware what one can come to call normal. I eat, sleep, read, do my homework, use the bathroom, all in the same 8′ x 5.5′ box with a c/o sitting in a booth 15′ away. If I turn my head a little to the right and he turns his head a little to the left, we make eye contact. There is no such thing as privacy. This puts me under constant psychological stress.

Then there is the violence that is a natural result of the stressful environment. The more the c/o’s crack down on us, the less time we get out of our cells, the more violence that occurs as people crack under the pressure. Witnessing violence on a regular basis increases stress further and this causes more stress. There is a justified paranoia that one develops in response to this.

Hypervigilance.

PTSD.

The violence itself being essentially random there is know way to know if I will be next. Or if it will be the person next to me that is attacked and if so, whether I will be able to clear the area quickly enough to not be collateral damage, or gaffed up by the c/o’s despite having nothing to do with it. This constant stress, constant vigilance, constant grinding fear… no child should ever experience such an environment. Yet it happens and not just in far off countries with long hard to pronounce names, but right here in our own back yard. Even worse, it’s not a side effect of some other issue like war, famine, or plague, but a direct result of purposeful action on the part of politicians like Dow Constantine. I do not believe traumatizing children is a good way to help them be successful.

Education

By placing these children in jail the state is taking them out of school, or missing an opportunity to get them back in school if they have dropped out. Even if there is educational programs in the jail, the horribly stressful environment is not conducive to learning.

This means that many of these children will end up dropping out before they can even get to high school. Considering most “drop out” statistics are based on the difference between incoming freshmen and graduating seniors, children that drop out in middle school are not counted, yet (and this is just my personal experience talking) a majority of people in prison dropped out in middle school.

You want to help kids?

Build schools not prisons.

Build schools that have a wing dedicated to community outreach. Make schools the host of child care, healthcare, and income support programs. Every public school have a bunk-house for homeless and abused children that need a safe place to sleep.

More jails will not educate children, more schools will.

Fated for Death or Prison

This one is the simplest and most straight forward argument. By putting children in jail, one is training them to grow up to be a prisoner. Just like if you give a kid a tool box and let them play at the local junk yard one is training them to grow up to be a mechanic. The difference being the trauma the child will develop from being in jail ends up more or less guaranteeing they live outside the law when older. Constant oppression by c/o’s teach children that authority is the enemy. It teaches children that it doesn’t matter what the rules are, it only matters what one can get away with. It teaches them to not worry about building for tomorrow because at any time today an adult can walk up, take and break everything one has, and if there is any complaint about that they have an even more uncomfortable box to throw one in.

Alone.

No sunlight.

No one to talk to.

Nothing to read.

For days and weeks on end.

Sends a child a fairly strong message about the appropriate response when confronted by some petty tyrant. Like say, a cop, or boss, or any number of authority figures. Makes it unlikely one will go back to school once out of jail, or work a legitimate legal job. Which leaves a life of crime as these children’s only remaining option as a result of state sponsored violence and trauma.

As a
Prisoner
I believe that JUSTICE comes from
Love
NOT JAILS.

#NoNewYouthJail #PeoplesMoratorium #LoveTheYouthStopTheJail

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