"I was angry and got in a fight..." by richard ross

I came in yesterday to LP. Spent the night here and am here this morning. I didn’t have any lunch. I’m in 7th grade, 8th grade soon. I live with my mom, aunt, cousin… my grandma went to Mexico. I’m going to be here three days and then I go to court. I might go home from there in days or hours. Over at LP it’s quiet and lonely. My mom knows I’m here. My dad is in Mexico. We all have papers. In LP I was just in a room reading by myself. When they bring you here, they handcuff your hands and your feet. Your feet are separated by this little chain and you have to walk at full speed and it hurts. I couldn’t call my Mom because it’s after 1PM and she goes to work. Maybe tomorrow. The police came yesterday at 10 AM. My mom is a bus driver. I was angry and got in a fight with my 13-year-old cousin about who had to clean up. The neighbors called the police. My mother was home. My cousin wasn’t arrested. My mom couldn't break up the fight between my cousin and me. I pushed my mom away. They say I bruised her… but look at my bruises. I am here because I hurt her arm. I said I was sorry and she was crying.

—D.T., age 12



". . .my mom was selling drugs." by richard ross

 My dad called me from Mexico. He just left us. Said he didn’t feel like being here.


I came in yesterday. This is my first time. I live with my grandma and my seven-year-old sister. I was taken from a court in a van. The judge a Japanese or Chinese guy sentenced me here. I came here in a van with a girl. We didn’t talk much. I don’t know where my mom is. My dad is in Mexico. I go back to court on Wednesday next week. They might get me out of here on release or give me another week. I’ve been on probation for a year and a few months. They say I violated probation, but I don’t know how. I just wanted to explain something to the judge. He should have been able to see it, because they have cameras all over the place and all he had to do was look at the cameras to see I didn’t do anything. They just said I violated something. My dad called me from Mexico. He just left us. Said he didn’t feel like being here. I was two or maybe three. They took us from my mom when I was five. They let my grandma be my guardian. My older brother lives with my stepdad. They took me because my mom was selling drugs. My grandpa isn’t here…he was deported to Mexico. I think they’re going to let me go home.

- K.D., age 13

". . . he crossed the anger line." by richard ross

Sometimes you get angry at people and the anger takes control.


I was born in Mexico. I live in Panorama now. Been here six days. The court decides where I go from here. Sometimes you get angry at people and the anger takes control. Me and this kid had a discussion, but then he crossed the anger line. The discussion was about racial things. He was African American. He called me a fat Chinese kid and said your parents are wetbacks. I live at home with my mom and dad. She cleans houses and he does construction. They’re both waiting for papers. I have two younger sisters. I’m the only boy child.

-K.K., 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.