This is your journey into Wyandotte County Juvenile Detention Center [as a juvenile offender].

You may be here because you’ve been convicted of a crime, or maybe you’ve been sent here for “sanction house.” In this case you haven’t been convicted of a crime, but you were truant, violating probation, or misbehaving in some way. Whatever it is you did, the judge sent you here.


1. You pull up outside the facility. This is where you are supposed to spend some time thinking about what you’ve done, and learn to correct your behavior. No more friends. No more cell phone. No more home cooked meals (if you were lucky enough to be getting those).


2. You pull into the sally port. You don’t casually walk into your temporary home. A door locks behind you before the next locked door is opened by someone in the control room. From now on, everything you do is being watched by someone else.


3. You’ve now reached intake and risk assessment. If the staff believe you pose a risk of harming yourself, you may find yourself in the garment pictured above: a suicide smock. This is a one-piece, highly durable article of clothing that prevents you from turning your clothes into a noose and hanging yourself. At some places, EVERY kid who enters the facility will be put in an isolation room wearing one of these for the first 24-hours of their stay.


4. You join general population. What did the other kids do to get here? Are they murderers? Are you tougher than they are? Will you have to prove myself to them? Do the staff have favorites? What’s the food going to be like?

Over the next few weeks, we will bring you stories of kids at Wyandotte County Juvenile Detention Center.

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