“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.
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