I was a GangBanger. My Mother is in the Police Academy and lives with her girl friend. My dad died. I have an uncle who was in prison for a while. No big deal.

I was locked up in Juvie for a month for Assault and Battery, also Robbery. Three days before I was supposed to go to court on a robbery charge I was picked up by transporters. Any place was better than with my Mom, so I went. I’m from Long Beach. I do a lot of track and Field here. I was at Level 4 but was dropped a level for the note-passing incident. Before this I was going to an alternative school, where you would go in and pick up the homework you were supposed to do, and then turn it in and pick up more. It was really dumb. I smoked weed and drank a lot. I hung out with gangs that were into criminal stuff. Now I want to finish school here and get out and spend some time with my family.” Marcus wears the basic uniform of the school, “smart casual shirts” that identify the level of trust earned. Most boys wear dark blue; girls light blue. Other clothing colors, such as yellow and orange, identify poor behavior.

–M.R. age 17

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