I’m from Bed-Sty, (Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn.) I got put in Unit 41 (drug and substance abuse). I have been here 7 months– don’t know when I’ll be released. There are 17 other kids in the unit. I’m in 10th grade but should be 11th. That’s my Do-Rag on the bed. My father was a marine. I got in trouble because I have a temper.
My older brother is going into security work and married….I wants to live with them rather than at home. My Mom owns a brownstone and lives with my Dad. I’m in here because of an assault, where I sort of knocked a kid out. It happened in school. When they see blood- you is automatically locked up. If you do better here, you get rewards. I did great in the talent show and rapped to Diva La Vie. When I was in juvie my mom visited me every Sat, but not here…this place is too far.
-A.T, age 16
I’m from Poughkeepsie… it’s a pretty rough place. I’ve been here 11 months and will be released in a month. I’m a sex offender. There are 16 other residents in my unit, four are Muslim. I wear yellow laces because I am in transition. I got a certificate of achievement for singing a Luther Vandross song in the talent show. My father, mother, sister and brothers visit (The visits are an earned privilege). My mom works at Church; my dad works at a correctional facility. When I get out I will start applying for colleges. Then I think I get aftercare. It’s like parole– you get it intense for a month or two or three or four, then it tapers off. I also have to do family therapy, individual therapy, reporting at nights, every night.
-J.A, age 17
Highland, NY was built in the 1940s. Portions of it were secure commitment. This is now a limited secure facility. The max bed count is for 183. At the time of visit the actual population was 130 boys. Behavior compliance and improvement is noted with different shoelace colors: white for orientation, blue for adjustment, yellow for transition and green for honors. The laces represent a level of achievement or placement. The uniform is a collared polo shirt and khaki pants or shorts. There is significant emphasis on the folding, care and storage of clothing. Each resident has more than one outfit, including shoes. Other institutions have differing manners of signifying accomplishment or status—shirts, jackets, uniforms, collars etc. Laces are but one method.