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My whole family is drug abusers and criminals


“I’m from Johnson County. I’ve been here 4 months. I’ve been in seven times. First charge was damage to property—aiding and abetting (fleeing from cops) when I was 12-years old. My Mom came to see me. She comes every weekend from Lawrence. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive. She’s unemployed. Dad works in Olathe and visits every weekend. He works at a warehouse. I have two brothers. One is 15—in jail at Douglas County- battery and grand theft auto. The 13 year old is on ISP (intense supervised probation.) I have a 19-year-old sister who is finished with her term for shoplifting … and a 10-year-old sister – no trouble. My whole family is drug abusers and criminals. My Mom is four years recovered — clean from crack and alcohol. My Aunt did a year in Federal [prison] in Texas … for driving with a child in a car while intoxicated. This is my first LONG stay. I have been to ACT (Adolescent Center for Treatment) for rehab … It’s around the corner. Out patient rehabilitation when I was 13-14. I was on probation for battery. Assault is when you defend — battery is when you initiate. I was in junior high and living with my dad because my mom was in rehab. Then I moved in with my mom in Lawrence. I attended another middle school … kicked out for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute … Weed, meth, pills. I was 14.

It’s a criminal world and I am a danger to society. They expect me to change over night but they don’t realize progress takes time.

When I am 18 the current charge can be waived into an adult. I caught a new charge of aggravated robbery … I harmed them while doing a crime. Me and my friend decided to rob this kid of some head-phones. We robbed him with a gun. How did I get a gun? I’m a criminal — it’s not hard to come by one. You can get a gun, a .22, for $50 with a clip. I got it from a friend. It’s a criminal world and I am a danger to society. They expect me to change over night but they don’t realize progress takes time. I’ve changed in the last 4 months here by trying to control my anger … my mouth … my disrespect … They say I have grown a bit. My plea is two years. I go to YCAT (Youth Corrections at Topeka) for two years of youth prison in Topeka. I don’t know. A lot of people tell me it is better than this facility. That it’s a better program — but it also has a bad reputation. Society says I am a level-one class offender — the most dangerous people walking around. That’s my “brother.” Me and him strike fear in the hearts of the “boys in black.” We have been locked up so many times together. I am sort of a senior in high school and will get my diploma by the end of the year. I want to take some college classes and maybe get a trade … Maybe work and get some money so I have some cash to spend when I get out.”

-N.C. age 17


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 bi-monthly on Bokeh.

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