DOC

"My mom and dad used to fight..." by richard ross

I’m 14. I’ve been here 7 months. I was 12 when I first came in here. I came in for fighting my brother. My mom, dad, Little brother, and sister visit. I’m in for 15-21 (months). My dad is African American, my mom is white. My oldest brother is home now. He was in DOC.

I am here for robbery and abduction. I was physically and emotionally abused. My aunts hit me, foster people and stuff like that. I was in foster homes probably 2 years ago. I been in 4-5 foster homes. They just move us around and around. My little brother and little sister moved with me.  so my mom had an order against my dad and he violated it so he got locked up…and my mom got on drugs. I went into foster care when I was like 7 or 8. My foster mom would push me around and hit me and stuff like that.

I don’t have any kids. I’m on lock so I wear orange. If you keep on getting institutional charges they put you on IBRU… it means 30 days lock or something like that. I get an extra charge for destruction of state property (writing on floor). I used a pen and ink—so I took the top of the pen off and blew the ink out of it. I don’t think I’m an artist.

—D, age 14

D., age 14

D., age 14

"It’s more than I’ve been alive." by richard ross

I'm from Norfolk, Virginia. I'm in 11th grade. I'm not in special ed or anything like that. I've been locked up for 15 months. Since I was 16. I was 16 when I first went into a facility. My grandparents, my cousin, and my uncle visit me here.

My mom and dad are dead... somebody killed them. That’s kind of why I’m locked up. I killed them. I snapped. No drugs were involved, I don't do drugs. It was knives, and a bat, and a crowbar. You probably heard about it before. On the local news. Over a span of nine months. It was a combination of things. It was mostly between me and my dad, my mom was just collateral damage. There was physical and emotional abuse. Me and my dad would get into fights a lot. I never said anything so CPS was never involved. My mom would usually come in and break up the fight. It's been going on since I was in elementary school. I don't know what age but elementary school.

W.Q., age 17

W.Q., age 17

I try to look at the bright side of things, I can get out at 43 or at best I could get out in my 30s.

I try to look at the bright side of things, I can get out at 43 or at best I could get out in my 30s. I might try to get a job. I'll take some college classes while I'm in DOC. I'd like to get a job as a graphic designer. It's still a long time. It's more than I've been alive. Most of my life I’m gonna be locked up. And this is my first time ever catching a charge, it's crazy. I can't take it back so I gotta move on.

He was ex-military when I was born, they were 39 and 40 when I was born. I don't have any brothers or sisters. I had snapped multiple times before but never at a person, it would be towards objects. I would break bottles and jars of porcelain things like that, it was never directed toward somebody. I mean, my hand was bleeding but I never went to the hospital. They were talking about therapy but that never happened. I used to be on ADHD medicine. When I was in here I started taking ADHD medicine again but I tried to kill myself in here. I wrapped long johns around my neck, there was blood coming out of my mouth and everything, I tried to try hang myself. An officer came by and took me down. I know what caused it, most of my extreme emotions are extremely divided and with my ADHD I’m able to distract myself from a lot of thoughts.

— W.Q., age 17

"You gotta stay humble." by richard ross

I’m here in isolation. It’s a lock unit. Isolation Behavior something… rehabilitation unit… I don’t know. I been here 2 months, a month and a half. You get an hour out a day, but say you got seven residents, you might get out the end of the day for a little bit, sometimes I play checkers during that time. I been in isolation for a month and a half. I used to be in my groups, but I started WILD’N’ OUT.

I used to take too many trays, like three breakfast trays, four lunch trays and three dinner trays. I didn’t care. I took them because I was hungry. I was OK with the consequences so I took them and ate them. You gotta behave to get out of here. I was supposed to leave today. I’m waiting for a superintendent to sign for my release. I’m here or in Open Pop, either way I’m still locked up. I was 11 or 12 when I was locked up.

U.X., age 16

U.X., age 16

I was supposed to leave today. I’m waiting for a superintendent to sign for my release.

I be here in my room thinking I’m just a juvenile. There are people in jail that are 15, 20, 17 years. I was writing to my Dads cellmate. He told me 80% of the kids here are going to be in prison, in DOC. You can lead a horse to the pond, but you gotta wanna change. You gotta stay humble. I know I’m small, but my pride gets in the way sometimes. I gotta watch what I say. It only takes one minute to take somebody’s life.

— U.X., age 16