I’ve been in the system since I was 11. I have another three or four months to go this time– I’ve already been here ten months. It’s always for fighting or disobeying authority. I’m originally from Arkansas, but my dad is in the military so he’s stationed in Texas.We talk over the phone and by email. My mom lives in Germany with my step dad. He’s in the military too. I know the statistics for kids in the system, but I want to beat the odds.

-P.J., age 17, Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center, Golden, Colorado

Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center houses a maximum of 160 juveniles. 85% of the 154 kids in the facility were on psychotropic medication, many suffering severe mental issues. The center deals primarily with “aggravated juveniles,” those who attempted murder, assault, etc. Their methods focus on therapy and learning to accept vulnerability to confront their issues in public. Ropes courses such as this are popular among juvenile facilities; unfortunately many have fallen into disrepair and no longer functioning for the kids’ use.

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