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Programming, Connections Help California Youth Deal With Demons of Reentry

​Daniel Bisuano laughs at having his portrait taken.​

​Daniel Bisuano prepares for a portrait.​

​Rose Morita declined to have an identifying photo taken because she doesn't want to leave a digital footprint. Here, she looks the InsideOut Writers sign on the wall.​

​Daniel Bisuano points to a photo of himself in a group who went to Big Bear and took a snowboarding lesson.​

​Daniel Bisuano looks at photos of IOW trips past.​

​Pumpkins glow at the entrance to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride​.

​The entrance to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride​.

​The sign under which group members bantered and sorted out admission wristbands reads "Death Row."​

Jesse Molina looks on as alum banter.​

​InsideOUT Writers Alumni Advocacy Director Jimmy Wu laughs at his alum.​

Jessica Martinez laughs at alum horsing around in the hay.

Daniel Bisuano and another ​IOW alum take photos with the attraction's masked monsters.

​Daniel Bisuano laughs overhearing friends talking.​

​Two IOW alums embrace at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride house at the Old L.A. Zoo in Griffith Park, California.

​Daniel Bisuano smiles for his last portrait.

Photos and text by Marisa Zocco

Few would guess the crowd waiting to enter the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride and Corn Maze is almost entirely made up of formerly incarcerated youth whose daily lives are in some ways more surreal than a scary event.

Used to a totally regulated life on the inside, they are uncertain how to navigate life on the outside again.

“You’re literally emerging from a time capsule,” said Jimmy Wu, the alumni advocacy director for InsideOUT Writers (IOW). “Even the pace of life — why didn’t you tell us we were going to be leaving a world that moves in slow motion for a world out here in fast forward?”

Wu and the group of young adults he accompanies are members, or alumni, of IOW, a nonprofit organization that provides programming and resources to youth affected by the juvenile justice system. On the inside, while incarcerated, youth in the program benefit from creative writing classes, introspective journal entries and taking part in writing retreats.

On the outside, after release, students are provided with mentorship, resources, writing circles and fun programming to help deal with their struggles with handling masked emotional demons, and navigating their way through the maze of reentry horrors.

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