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They Didn’t Believe Me…

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[Juvenile In Justice is a Guggenheim-award winning project by world renowned photographer Richard Ross to photograph and interview youth in juvenile detention centers across the U.S. Installments from the project appear weekly on Bokeh.]

“The Public Defender is always busy and doesn’t have much time for me. I’m not nervous. I’m accepting what happens.”

Photo by Richard Ross

I’ve been here two months. I turn 18 in a month. I’m not sure what happens… a lot depends on what happens Monday. I may be sent to live with my older cousin, or sent to YCAT (Youth Center at Topeka), State pen (state penitentiary), or be put into JJA (Juvenile Justice Authority) custody. I have a cousin who is 32 that invited me to live with him. I am looking into living with my aunt or uncle. Depends on Monday. I may go to adult custody to await transfer. The D.A. wants to send me to YCAT. The Public Defender is always busy and doesn’t have much time for me. I’m not nervous. I’m accepting what happens. I’ve become fairly religious in here. It’s like whatever happens to you is probably for the better. I have a battery charge — possession of marijuana. I messed with prescriptions — no heroin or meth. I was high all day. It interfered with school. I still do OK. I didn’t do any after school activities…and I didn’t like doing homework. I am a senior — in line to graduate with a 3.1 or 3.2.

“My parents keep on turning me in here. They call the drug dogs. I told them I didn’t have anything at the house but they didn’t believe me. They may be afraid I am poisoning my little brother or sister.”

I’ve been here twice. I was in the week before Thanksgiving. I was out on house arrest and probation when I got an aggravated battery charge. I’m here for possession, paraphernalia, and distribution — Adderall, mushrooms. I was dealing all the time. They never really had enough in terms of witnesses. All the charges were in the past year. The bigger part is not getting along with my family. I was charged with battery against my mother. Both my parents live at home. Mom’s a teacher — middle school. Dad works as a technical engagement leader at Health Care Technology. My parents come to visit me but we start arguing and it ends up pretty bad. They have forgiven me for what happened to my Mom — but not everything else. They are Catholic and try and be… but they just have the appearance they are, they keep on turning me in here. They call the drug dogs. I told them I didn’t have anything at the house but they didn’t believe me. They may be afraid I am poisoning my little brother or sister. I have three siblings. The 16-year-old had battery charges. My parents have called the police at least a dozen times describing out-of-control kids.

- A.T., age 17, Johnson County Juvenile Detention, Kansas.

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Juvenile In Justice is a Guggenheim award winning project by world renowned photographer Richard Ross to photograph and interview youth in juvenile detention centers across the U.S.Installments from the project appear weekly on Bokeh.

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