I was a Gangbanger. My Mother is in the Police Academy and lives with her girlfriend. My dad died. I have an uncle who was in prison for a while. No big deal.

I was locked up in Juvie for a month for Assault and Battery, also Robbery. Three days before I was supposed to go to court on a robbery charge, transporters picked me up. Any place was better than with Mom, so I went. I do a lot of track and field here. I was at Level 4 but dropped a level for the note-passing incident. I was going to an alternative school, where they gave you a sheet with the homework you were supposed to do, and then turned that in and kept going. Really dumb. I smoked enough weed and drank a lot. Hung out with gangs that were into pretty criminal stuff. Now I want to finish school here and get out and spend some time with my family in Long Beach, California.

– M.E. age 17

Marcus wears the basic uniform of Cross Creek Program; “smart casual shirts” that identify the level of trust earned. Most boys wear dark blue; girls light blue. Other clothing colors, such as yellow or orange, identify misbehavior. Cross Creek, located in La Verkin Idaho, is a residential treatment center. This private institution, A Church of Latter-day Saints Organization, is a school of last resort. Utah has state laws that favor rights of parents over juveniles, so several of these programs are housed in the state. Parents may resort to this alternative when they fear injury, death or criminal detention as a possible outcome of their child’s behavior. The program is very high-cost and frequently paid with by refinancing homes or getting second mortgages. The sub-prime mortgage meltdown has heavily impacted the ability of families to pay the cost of these institutions and their population has dropped off significantly.

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