I’ve been here five and a half months. This is my seventh time. First time, I was 15. I am from Santa Barbara. I go to alternative high school. I have about 170 units so I’m about to graduate. I have been to Santa Barbara Junior High School, La Cuesta, Community Day School… I stopped going to school. Now I only do school work when I am here. My mother is a caregiver to an old lady, Dad’s in prison on gang and drug related charges. I don’t know how old my Mom is. I think she may be in her 30s… maybe 37. I live at home with my Grandpa, my two brothers and my little sister. Nobody visits me here.
The first charges against me were petty theft, felony vandalism… disturbing the peace. Then I started getting some heavier charges like assault with a deadly weapon, possession with intent to sell, narcotics charges. Mostly marijuana. The police would call me gang affiliated. I was at Los Prietos a couple of months ago. Been there three times. Third time I didn’t finish. I don’t want to be there. I’m over it. Same shit over and over again. I don’t like being locked up but I don’t really care…I do care but if it happens, it happens. I’m not going to cry about it. I’m here on new charges, I was with my homeboys and we fucked up this other guy’s car. Also got an assault on a police officer here. Staff tried to put his hands on me so I hit him. I’ve been pepper sprayed twice in here and once at Los Prietos. I’m inside the room because I am on ISO (Isolation) for breaking a computer keyboard at school. I been here two weeks straight. I got into a bunch of fights. I never really cared about my life, then I got a girlfriend and I cared about her. She hasn’t called or written since I’ve been here. She left me hanging. She was special… Now I’m here. It sucks but I can’t do shit about it. I just have to deal with it. Who am I? Not really anything beyond the gang, just my legal name.
– K.N, age 17, at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, Santa Maria, California.