“I’ve been here a month and I have a month to go. I’m in eighth grade, but I haven’t been to school since I was in sixth grade. I hardly ever go to school. I hang out with my friends on State Street or we drive around or we go to the beach. I hang out with older kids. All my friends have guns. All the boys. The girls carry knives. Yeah, they are gang related.

…when I am with my friends, like five out of six of us are wearing GPS—
so we are not allowed to congregate

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I was picked up on warrants. That means a bench warrant was issued because I cut my GPS. We can’t go past a certain point but when I am with my friends like five out of six of us are wearing GPS—so we are not allowed to congregate. So I cut my bracelet off. I was 13 the first time I came in here. Yeah, drugs have been involved…I’ve been to rehab a couple times. Me and my friends mostly do weed, coke, meth, and alcohol. I’ve been on SB 163 the program just before placement. I had to have sessions with my parent. Me and my dad would meet someone twice a week. She is in her late 30’s.

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I have 3 sisters: the 16-year-old is in trouble, 11-year-old’s starting to get in trouble, and the 7-year-old…nothing yet. My Mom lives in Chicago with the sisters. I live with my dad’s second family—my dad’s parents, my dad’s brothers, their girlfriends, and my cousins. The house is not that big. I sleep in the Living Room with my 19-year-old cousin, my 12-year-old cousin and my six-year-old cousin.”

-N.Q., age 14

Susan J. Gionfriddo Juvenile Justice Center, Santa Maria, California

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