[This is the third in a series of posts on Santa Maria Juvenile Hall in Santa Maria, California.]
M.Q and D.N at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. Images by Richard Ross for www.juvenile-in-justice.com
M.Q and D.N at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. Images by Richard Ross for www.juvenile-in-justice.com
[superquote]I’ve been here more than 20 times all together. They say to me when I go each time, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”[/superquote]

M.Q., age 15: I’m from Santa Maria. I live with my Mom. My parents are divorced and I don’t communicate with my Dad, he abused me. And he made my mom iron his shirts so he could go out with another woman.

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M.Q: I was charged with 11550. Meth. My Mom couldn’t believe it. They found a doggie (a meth pipe) when I was 14. Then I caught a 211—armed robbery, carjacking… We would pretend to hitch-hike and get picked up by Pisas-– illegal aliens. Migrant labor. Most of these guys were lonely and looking to hook-up with a younger girl, “Oh do you want a ride?” I was never armed… but I always had a knife. These guys never have papers. They asked me if I wanted a ride and then I took their money and then their car and threatened to turn them in. I was on meth. Then one of them called the cops. I have other friends that hook-up for drugs. A lot of girls are like that, no self-respect. Yeah. They dropped a lot of my charges and let me plead to the high level charge… the 211. It’s a five year charge. I’ve been here 6 months. My courts were just Wednesday and I may end up going to a group home in LA or Lompoc or Ventura. They’re not that fun– full of a bunch of drama girls. But I was lucky I didn’t get processed as an adult.

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D.N., age 16: My mom doesn’t work, my dad passed away when I was 8. He was 39, an alcoholic, and he did drugs—-so he was into it. His lungs collapsed from Pneumonia. I have one older and one younger sister and an older brother. The older ones are always in trouble. Me? I’ve never been to a regular high school. No one visits me here. I’ve been here more than 20 times all together. They say to me when I go each time, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

[superquote]I wanna open a bank account, get a lot of money, $10,000. Get some scholarships and go to college. I want to make a fresh start and meet some new people and get a new home.[/superquote]

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I am here for PV– parole violation. I tested under the influence. Original charges were 211– Strong Arm Robbery [with a weapon or fists or feet]. My sister and I were doing some stuff at Macy’s and we got into it with a security guard. Originally, I was here for 101 days. They could put me into three years of confinement. It sucks here. Boring. Same routine. Lots of drama with these girls. I have a boyfriend. He’s in here now, too. He’ll be here til April… maybe longer. Same charges. I ran away from home, then I ran away from placement. He’s been here since he was 12. They gave him YOBG (Youth Offender Block Grant) originally 18 months then dropped down to 6. I see him on Thursdays when he passes by. I might get out Thursday… maybe going to a group in Fresno. I want to stop using and get into ILP, which is Independent Living Program, I wanna open a bank account, get a lot of money, $10,000. Get some scholarships and go to college. I want to make a fresh start and meet some new people and get a new home.


[This is the third in a series of posts on Santa Maria Juvenile Hall in Santa Maria, California.]

4 thoughts on “[Inside Santa Maria Juvie] Cell Mates.

  1. Every One Has Their Own Life Story. As I Read Yours I Think WOW, Iv’e Been Their And Done That. I’m In Placement MySelf And I Should Be Getting Out On The Twenty Fifth Of April 25, 2013. If I Could Make It Then You Can Make It. Every Thing Is All In The Mind. Reasons Why I Got Locked Up Is Because I Wanted To Shoe Off To My Homie’s. Well, Now As I Think Back To It, I Really Don’t Care Now What People Got To Say About Me. Yeah, Don’t Get Me Wrong. I Still Got A Bad Side Of Me But I Don’t Show It. I Stop Thinking About The Past And I Start Thinking About My Feature. Not Only My Feature I Care And Think About, But I Think About My Baby Mama’s Feature And My Daughters Feature’s. I’m Only 16 And I Got A Lot To Worry About.

  2. I lived in S.M. for 20 years and always heard about, but never understood the juvy system. I would drive by the halfway house each day or hear about kids getting sent to juvy, but never once in the paper or the classroom did I learn about the system.

  3. Hi Angel,
    Thanks for your thoughts and comments. As I write this I see you will be out in five days– exciting seems too mild a word. I wish you and your daughter the best!

  4. Hi Toby,
    In general juvenile justice facilities are opaque, closed-off places that keep the public out. It’s sad that sometimes facilities make more of an effort to protect themselves than help the children in their custody by bringing in organizations/reporters that want to do good work by shining light into an otherwise shadowy system.

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