“My mom said I was her gift from heaven. I’ve lived in programs. I’ve been here before.  This time I’m here for a year and I’ll probably be here a couple more years.  I think I been here three or four times.  The first time at 15.  I come from McMinville, a small town south of Portland.  I was first caught at 12 on an assault charge, but I didn’t get charged. I beat up somebody ‘cause they were beating up my brothers.  They’re both autistic.  My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s an illegal from Mexico. I haven’t seen him for a long time. My mom’s from Washington and she takes care of my brothers. I’m charged with assaulting, doing meth, selling, more assaults and assaults on cops.

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I’ve been sober two years, without a program. My family is my program. My mom and my brothers and my cousin.  My cousin is seven years old.  I’ve been taking care of her since she was one.  And I was 12.  My uncle is in prison for beating some guy with a hammer. Her mom is a meth addict, so she doesn’t come around. My grandma has custody of her.  I have a high school diploma.  So me and D [another girl at the facility] can’t go to school.  So we work in the kitchen.  I was visited by my mom twice.  She doesn’t have much money.  I have one brother who is four and the other is 13.  I want to be in the independent living program.  Sometimes I help the other girls put on makeup ‘cause it helps them how they look and they feel better about themselves.”

-I.T., age 18, Oak Creek Oregon, Albany, Oregon 

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