probation

"I am always asking, 'Where is my dad?'" by richard ross

I got in trouble here. Criminal damage, destruction of property. I kicked down a door in my mom’s house. She took all my electronics. I wanted to be on Facebook. I broke into my room to get my laptop. They originally took it away from me because I was suspended from school. I got in a fight with a girl at school. I've known her since kindergarten. She was talking a lot of smack. Calling me a bitch, a whore. She told me my boyfriend was cheating on me with her. My boyfriend is 17. We are having sex, but nobody is going to find out. My mom called the police. I was out on a probation violation and I failed a UA. I ran again to be with my homeboys. Doing some weed and pills. I would be labeled as gang affiliated with Southside. I get A’s and B’s in school. I live with my mom and stepdad. My stepdad works at a factory making trash cans with lids on them. I don’t know my real dad. Mom is a R.N. at a hospital. I don’t know my dad’s real name. He lied to my mom about everything, including his name and left. My stepdad visited me once. My grandparents, uncles, aunt, and mom visit. I was placed in JJA custody.

I am leaving Sunday to go to a group home. I’ve never been to a group home, but I hear stuff goes on there. Too many fights. I don’t want to get any more charges. I had a PV, flunked a UA, and they put out a warrant for running and not going home. I ran to another state and hung with some homies I know. I was always treated good…but I have anger in me. My friends have dads and I am always asking “Where is my dad?”

—S.Q., age 16

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"Mom does the best she can." by richard ross

I’m from the East Side. I have two sisters, 12 and six. I think they probably took over my room. I was 15 on my first visit here. I was picked up three days ago on a warrant for not appearing in court. I got out of camp and didn’t check in with my PO (probation officer) for eight months. I just wanted to be done with probation and all that shit. I was chilling with my homie and the cops stopped us for open containers and they ran my ID and found me with an open warrant. They would describe me as gang affiliated. I been here a bunch. Maybe 25 times. Mostly violations, and little misdemeanors. They always portray gang members as a negative thing, but there are different levels. Some people just like to hang with their homies rather than hard core banging. If you are identified as a gang member they finger print you, take your DNA. They make you sign a document that you are affiliated. They showed it to my mom and told her what it was about but she didn’t understand it. I have minor charges “hanging” over me. These are forgotten if you don’t stray as an adult, but if you do, they make those charges a part of your history and you have to answer for them as an adult. I didn’t really go to school on the outs. I think I am supposed to be in 12th grade. I go to court tomorrow.

"I been here a bunch. Maybe 25 times. Mostly violations, and little misdemeanors."

My mom visits me. She’s a box checker in the strawberry fields. She has her resident papers and has been here 18 years. My dad passed away when I was 5. He was DUI and went off a cliff. I was in AS (administrative segregation) for a week one time. I try to stay straight here. I was never in foster care. I had lots of issues when I was young. There was no dad in my house and there was a lot of domestic violence. There were always men beating on my mom and myself. Her ex-husband was violent. I think it was because I wasn’t his real biological son. My mom filed a restraining order against him. He was arrested and kicked out of the country.

Mom does the best she can. She works in the strawberry fields Monday through Saturday. When the girls are in school sometimes my aunt helps out. She lives with us. I will tell the judge, “you gave me a lot of chances but I blew most of them.” I was a skater when I was 13/14 but they don’t have space in this town for those kids.

—J., age 18

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"My dad lives in Mexico. I’m not sure if my mom has papers." by richard ross

This is my first time. I was in LP for a few days. I was just AWOL for a few days from my foster home. I’m there with my biological brother and my foster mom’s daughter and another foster girl. I was with my aunt for two years. I was eleven when I was taken from my house. I didn’t know what was going on. My mom didn’t know what it meant for me to be detained either. The cops found a weed plant in my brother’s room and then they started investigating my mom and my step-dad. They smoked crack. DCFS took me, my two brothers, and my little sister into custody. My mom was pregnant and when the baby was born they took the baby away. My dad lives in Mexico. I’m not sure if my mom has papers.  My foster home is pretty good, no foster dad there. There was really no reason for me to go AWOL, I was picked up for truancy but I had gotten into trouble for graffiti. Putting white out on a bench in the park right next to school—during school. I was with a friend and we were waiting for nutrition class to end because we didn’t want to go to nutrition…so we went next door to the park for that period. They called it pen tagging. Then I lied to the police about what my name was. They handcuffed me. I went to court two months ago and they gave me probation. Then I violated by running away.

I’m in 9th grade. My mom was in AA rehab. There’s no abuse in my background. I’m fighting going to camp. The judge is making me go to placement although I have no idea why. They want me to go to a group home when I’m doing well in foster care. My boyfriend is 17. He’s a sophomore in HS. I stopped going to school in January. I tried going to continuation school. But I couldn’t get anyone there to help me enroll. I must have gone at the wrong time. I missed a court date and they issued a warrant. I’m not even sure why. I didn’t want to go to court. I was going through stuff with my mom. She talked to me about her drug abuse and how she couldn’t stop.

—Z.O., age 15

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"She told me today that she’s pregnant." by richard ross

I live near the city college I live with my mom, two sisters, a newborn, and my stepdad. I have an older brother, but he’s out of the house. My stepdad’s a chef. And my mom works at a bakery. I was taken away by social workers. My mom told them that I hit her, but I really just ran away with my girlfriend. I wasn’t going to school. I was living in the street at friends’ houses with my girlfriend. I guess I was couch surfing. Yeah, I guess I was homeless. My mom came to see me today, with my girlfriend. She’s still with me. She told me today that she’s pregnant. I’m in 11th grade. I can barely take care of myself. I got a grand theft charge. The judge sent me to placement rehab. Mostly alcohol and weed and meth. My girlfriend would keep me on the right path. When I was on the outs, I wouldn't eat or sleep because of all the drugs. In here, I’m always sleeping to catch up on lost sleep and I’m always hungry. ‘Cause now that I’m not on drugs I’m hungry.

They have me for grand theft and possession of meth. I hope they give me probation. I think I’m going to go to a placement home. I was interviewed on Friday, and I’m just waiting for them to pick me up. I have to do nine months. If I go AWOL, I’ll be in bigger trouble. I’ve been here for two weeks for the same charge. The grand theft was I snatched a phone from an open car. They caught me sitting in the car and they tried to catch me for GTA. They tried to put those charges on me.

—K.O. age 17

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"She doesn’t have papers; she’s not a citizen." by richard ross

This is my second time here. I’ve been here 3 days so far. I was going from my friends house at 8 o'clock at night and the cops stopped me. Two units. They took me to the downtown station for three hours. They did mugshots and fingerprinted me, and then they brought me here to central. They said I was riding a bike without lights…and attempted robbery. The first time I was here it was for trying to push my sister out a second story window. They put me on probation. My mom called the police. My sister was babysitting me and she wouldn’t let me out. They say I’m affiliated with 18, but I’m not. I have family, I have a cousin in with them. I live with my mom, she works in a factory. My sister, a little sister, and a little brother. My mom works in a factory from 6AM to 8PM. She doesn’t have papers; she’s not a citizen. I’m in seventh grade now because I flunked first. I was born here. I’m gonna be a cop when I grow up.

—N.N., age 13

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"I've been coming here since I was ten or eleven." by richard ross

I'm being held in detention. I've been coming here since I was ten or eleven. I was expelled from school in the 6th grade. There are problems at home. My younger brother is on probation. My mom works for the cable company. I live with my mother, grandmother, and aunt—she's 15.

I don't talk to my father, he left when I was six. He tried to visit me once but I said I didn't wanna see him.

—J., age 13

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"I never got a chance to go to regular school." by richard ross

I’m getting my 72 hearing. That’s means I’m supposed to be heard within 3 days. I came in yesterday. I’ve been here three times before. First time I was 14. I live with my mom, stepdad, five brothers and three sisters. I stay with my dad sometimes. I’ve been suspended from school because I didn’t do my work on time. I was suspended twice and then they put me in here. I’m hoping I get 28 days in boot camp and then can go home. I was in a SPAN program, the county alternative school. It’s a place to get your GED. I never got a chance to go to regular school. I stayed in alternative schools most of my life.

I was originally charged with DV (domestic violence). I was with my sister who is 14 in her friend’s mother’s car. I was in the front seat and my sister wanted to get into the front seat, so she called the police because she knew I was on probation for my school suspension.

—L., age 15

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"I always stuck with school. I always had good grades." by richard ross

I’ve been here two months now. The first time I was here was on a burglary charge. I was 14. Two other times I was here for cutting off my house arrest bracelet. Old charges that popped up and they sent me back downstairs from the courtroom down to detention. My P.O. (probation officer) is having a placement meeting for me. My dad, mother, and grandmother visit. Sometimes my sister visits. She is 17. My dad and mom don’t live together. My mom lost custody a couple of years ago. I was about nine years old. My mom and dad have both been involved with me. I was never in a foster home. My grandmother has been raising me for more than six years. I’m in regular high school classes, but we have about 12-13 kids in each class. We do a lot of work on computers there.

N.K., age 17

N.K., age 17

I always stuck with school. I always had good grades. No one ever checked on my homework. No one.

I have always been falling into a bad crowd. Only a few of my family members share the same behavior—my uncle and my god brother. They’re not in any gangs—they just like to be out on the streets. What does “on the streets” mean? Having fun, getting money— the easy way of doing what they enjoy doing. They hustle and look for easy money. It is hard and very, very tempting, but best to stay away from it. My mom is at home with my sister. She straightened up her life after she got out of jail. She completed probation. She drinks here and there but she doesn’t smoke anymore so I’m proud of her for that. A drink here and there or a smoke here and there is normal. It’s not like kids don’t know what they are doing is wrong. They are just not thinking of the consequences. When we do things like “hitting licks”—robbing someone or breaking into a house—it’s a way to make money. People use that phrase everywhere. “Me and my friend just hit a lick on a house down the street for $500.”

I always stuck with school. I always had good grades. No one ever checked on my homework. No one. My grandmother is responsible for me.

—N.K., age 17

"…if I ever get on track." by richard ross

I was here six times. The first time I was 13. I live with my mom, step dad, sister and two brothers. My mom visits me once or twice a week. I had a lot of VP (Violation of Probations). I broke an iPhone so they called it criminal damage. My Mom called the police. They have me in programs like New Directions for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. I did the program from July 1st to October 15th. 14 Weeks. I was on pills like Xanex and Molly. I experimented with anything and everything. I used the program to learn how to cope with my life. There are better things to do than drugs. It was a mandatory program where I was a resident. It was lock down treatment. I violated probation by having arguments with my mom. I violated the rules of house arrest.

At age 14 I picked up an MIP (Minor in Possession) for alcohol and weed. My mom sent me to Alabama when I was 12 to live with my dad. He was a drill Sgt. in the army. He would wake me up at 4:30 AM and beat me if I didn’t wake up. He would give me $20 at the beginning of the week and tell me to get my own food. He worked in the Post Office after he left the army. I told my mom how bad it was for me, but she thought I was just saying that. I got myself kicked out of his house so I went to live with a friend. My father came and kicked the door down. He pretty much beat me. I had a black eye and bruises. He put me on a bus back from Alabama to Ohio by myself. I have been here a month now. The judge knows I keep on getting into arguments with my mom.

— F.E., age 17

— F.E., age 17

He was a drill Sgt. in the army.

He would wake me up at 4:30 AM and beat me if I didn’t wake up.

He would give me $20 at the beginning of the week and tell me to get my own food.

I am going to go to Lakewood College and then to Kent State and do a degree in Psychology...if I ever get on track. CPS was never involved. My parents always wanted all the issues to stay in the house. After the fight in Alabama, I had so much resentment, I kind of raked out. My sister is a 4.0 student. My grandma is not my actual grandma. She went through a lot of physical and sexual abuse when she was little. My Mom went through the same. I think my mom sees a lot of myself in her. She treats me badly. She sent my little sister to my dad’s house as well. Ever since I left Alabama, I never spoke to my dad. He does things like calls on HIS birthday, not mine. He only thinks of himself.

— F.E., age 17

"You know what a hitman is right?" by richard ross

I'm 18 years old. I'm in IBRU. I been here about a month. I’ve been in Beaumont since July 8. About nine months. I was 16 when I first went in to Juvie. I originally went to juvie for probation violation on a fighting charge. It was a school incident, I was fighting in school, the judge gave me probation. There are lots of cops in school here. I'm in 11th grade. I had just started ninth grade when I got into the fight. It was a minor fight but I still get an assault charge because you fightin’ on school grounds and stuff. When the fight happened they restrain you and separate you and put you in cuffs and stuff, and then they call your parents. You get cuffed if you fighting at school. If your parents can’t pick you up they take you to detention. But nine times out of 10 if you get in a fight at school you gettin’ suspended and a fighting charge.

...nine times out of 10 if you get in a fight at school you gettin’ suspended and a fighting charge.

D.D., age 18

D.D., age 18

I'm from Lynchburg, Virginia. It’s a pretty easy college town. I did other things to get here, there were other charges. People usually come here for other charges. I'm about to go back home. I live with my grandma grant grandpa. My mom passed in a car accident, head-on truck collision in 2005, 10 years ago. I was six or seven years old. I don't know where my dad is. I don't even know my dad's name.

I can't be out with the other kids. I'm in protective custody because I got hit and the investigator said there were too many hits out on me. People put hits out on other residence and stuff like that. You know what a hitman is right? It's like the Mafia but it's for kids out here. I don't know why they would put it out on me, I get along with mostly everybody. I’m not gang affiliated. I don’t really even know who the gangs are other than your Bloods and your Cripps and whatever other gangs you got.

— D.D., age 18

"Kids were talking trash about my dad. . ." by richard ross

I’m in sixth grade but I’ve been held back. I was born in Fresno. I moved back here when I was 9. There’s a lot of gangbanging in Fresno. My auntie and cousins lived here and my mom decided to move here with my brother, sister and grandmother. My dad is deceased. He died of cancer when I was 5. I’m here because of a lot of suspensions and fighting. Kids were talking trash about my dad and telling me I’m a fat dumb ass. I’ve been here before for trespassing and VP (violation of probation). The original charge was GTA (grand theft auto). I thought my mom wasn’t coming to visit and I got mad and broke the sink off. My mom works as a teacher. This is my first time here. I thought I was going to get out tomorrow but I caught another charge with breaking the sink. My house is just me, Mom, two brothers, 18 and 15, and my sister. - N.I., Age 13

N.I

N.I

 I thought my mom wasn’t coming to visit

and I got mad and broke the sink off.

**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.

". . .nothing but some stupid shit." by richard ross

I have been here two months. This is my first time here. They just picked me up in the streets right after school. I went to the station. I couldn’t go home. They wouldn’t let me go to my mom. I was on probation. I’m here for nothing but some stupid shit. I live with my mother, two brothers and my sister. My 18-year-old sister is going to Pierce College. My 22-year-old brother finished college. My other sister is messing up. She ditches school. She is supposed to go to school at 7AM, but my mom goes into work at 7:30AM and my sister wants to come back to the house. She is messing up. She is hanging out with the wrong people.

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I couldn’t go home. They wouldn’t let me go to my mom.

They say I am gang affiliated, but that’s not true. My dad is in Mexico. He was deported for drinking in front of the apartment house where we live. Public intoxication. There was a warrant out for him and he was in jail for a week before he was deported. He didn‘t have any papers. My mom has papers though. I’ve been on house arrest. My court date was in 2012 and then my second was July of 2013. I had house arrest, but they cut it short. They told me if I did one thing wrong I would be in Juvie. I had four months to be straight and then there would not have been any problems. My mom works at a fast food restaurant. After school, I go to my grandma’s to eat. My 18-year-old brother watches me.

-D.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.

". . .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.

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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

On the streets or in the projects by richard ross

I’m from Pacoima, the projects. You know the buildings? I’m a member of Project Winos. I’ve been living on the streets or else I sleep in the projects with my homies. I don't go to school on the outs. My mom was deported when I was five, then I lived with my dad till I was 12, and then he was deported. I have a brother who’s 19 in jail, and a sister who’s 15 in placement. I was born here. I was living in foster homes after five. The first foster home I was with my sister until I was seven. Then we lived with my dad until my dad found a girlfriend. My dad would abuse us mentally before I was 12. He would talk shit to us, make us feel bad, and hit us. And then I was 12 and he got deported, so my sister and me went to a foster home for three months. Then I lived with my aunt in Victorville, then a foster home in Victorville, but then we ran away to Pacoima.

When I was on the street, we all didn’t have a place to stay, so we would all look out for each other.

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My sister and me turned ourselves in. We stayed in a foster home in Palmdale. My sister got in trouble and locked up for ditching on probation. I’ve been in 15 different DCFS placements and probations. Now it’s all probation. I go to trial in four weeks, but my paperwork got lost. I’m five months pregnant. It feels good, and scary. Placement will help me with my baby. I’ve done some meth and weed. Here we have individual therapy twice a week and anger management once a week. When I was on the street, we all didn’t have a place to stay, so we would all look out for each other. We were hustlers. Make our money by selling weed. When I get out, maybe I’ll be a cosmetologist or a psychologist.

-N.K., age 16

 

**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.

". . . my mom was schizophrenic and blind." by richard ross

I went to a foster care placement at age 13 because my mom was schizophrenic and blind. She couldn’t take care of me. My dad is on probation in Ohio. I call him sometimes. My tattoo C.R.E.A.M.? It stands for ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” I was living with my grandma and aunt, and then they got inspected and I was taken from them. My mother used to say certain groceries were poisoning food. We couldn’t go into certain grocery stores. She thought that I was inviting friends over to beat her up and urinate and take craps on the bed. She was completely delusional, but she has no therapist and she doesn’t take drugs.

She thought that I was inviting friends over to beat her up and urinate and take craps on the bed.

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I have one sister. She lives in Las Vegas. The first time I was in foster care the foster mom has 2 real sons and 3 foster kids. I stayed there 2 years, until I was 15, and kicked out for misbehavior. I went to another foster home in Paramount. After six months, I AWOLed. Then I went to a group home in the Valley. It was a six-month for probation and foster kids combined. It wasn't a bad neighborhood; it wasn't lockdown. There was a therapist every week. We would have 2-hour group meetings. They got really boring and repetitive. They would want you to do this shit—“creative visualization.” When I get out I want to go to Santa Monica CC.

-L.E., age 17

 

**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.

"My life is all over the place . . ." by richard ross

This is my second time here. The first time I was here I was 16. But that's the normal life in a bad neighborhood. I been to foster homes, group homes, shelters, placements, everything that probation and DCFS has had, I’ve been through it. I was six years old when my mom and dad divorced. I have two half brothers and a sister. I was living with my dad, he used to be a commercial scuba diver. But I don't surf or anything. I don't need anything to do with water.

 It’s when I go home that things go to hell.

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I been to placements like a six bed facility in the Valley, I was there 7 months. I succeeded out there and completed their highest levels. It’s when I go home that things go to hell. I stayed with my mom for four months, then she messed up and I took off for a good 2 or 3 weeks. I would do crack . . . I guess I’m addicted. My dad used to do crack and alcohol. My life is all over the place. I deal a lot with mental health services for anger management, lots of group therapy. I went to a foster home when I was 14. I was into meth, but I’m gonna stop. I’m gonna stay sober. I have a son that was born three weeks ago with my ex-girlfriend. She screwed up. Meth is self-medicating for me. But I’m trying to do restitution. Maybe they’ll put me in a drug program. You can be with probation until you’re 25, but I plan on being there for my son . . . unlike my mother and father who weren’t there for me.

-D.G., Age 17

 

**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.