"I was gang since day one." by richard ross

I’m from Watts. I’ve been here two weeks. I am in seventh grade. First time I was here earlier this year. I was here five weeks ago for a week. I was brought in at 3AM by LAPD. I went to court yesterday. There was no space for 13 year-olds there so now I am here in Unit J. My grandma visits me. My mom passed away when I was three. My dad lives in Long Beach. There’s a restraining order that my grandma put on him. He was in jail when my mom died. She was in a car accident on the 105. Her car flipped over and she was thrown out and the car ran over her. She never liked wearing seatbelts. My brother was there with her. He has had 17 surgeries in his head. He’s 18 now. My dad builds big boats like the Titanic. Central_CA_4.20.14-8

I am wearing my county shoes. They are jail shoes.

They would describe me as gang affiliated with BHW. Bounty Hunter Watts. They are mostly blacks, but take Hispanics. I was gang since day one. I was born in the projects. My grandma gets SSI. She adopted us. Me and my three brothers and my sister. I went to Compton Court. My grandmother and brother were there and my lawyer Mr. G. He said, “I am trying to bring you out of jail. I don’t want you in there.” My grandma can barely walk. She has leg problems. She was making tamales for 20 years putting cornhusks on her knees. It sucked up the liquid from her bones. I’ll probably go to placement. Judge got to decide where, placement or a group home. My other grandma passed away three years ago. It was on my sister’s birthday. She was going to have her quinceañera, but she didn’t want to have it because that was the day she died. She died of alcohol poisoning. I am wearing my county shoes. They are jail shoes.

- H.C., age 13


**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.