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Juvenile Discussion of everything related to minors in the criminal justice system: juvenile detention, courts, rights, and family support.

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  #1  
Old 11-03-2016, 07:35 PM
LordNick343 LordNick343 is offline
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Post My Juvenile Experiences: AMA (ask me anything)

Hello, everyone!

For those of you who don't know, I was confused a few threads ago about what to do as far as my future. Well, now that I figured from the advice I got not to go through with anything that could end me up with something worse than what I already have, I decided to probably have some closure on the past by getting off my chest everything I have about it.

And so, I decided the best way would be to answer questions or curiosities anyone, and that means ANYONE, had about the juvenile justice system. After all, I've been 15 years old and at the worst end of New York state's system.

WHAT BASICALLY HAPPENED AS FAR AS ME (WARNING: THIS IS GONNA BE A LOOOONG STORY):

When I was 15, almost 16, I was arrested initially for Attempted Murder (2nd degree) in New York state, near Jefferson county.

I spent 5 months in a psych center before I turned 16 and was arraigned as a "Juvenile Offender (JO)", meaning I was a specified violent juvenile delinquent who, despite my age, could be charged in an adult court for the seriousness of my offense.

Then, I spent over a year in a county jail before I finally had to plead guilty to the charge; It was either that, or go to trial and risk up to 10 years in prison (the most a JO could do for a Violent Class B Felony in new york state) if found guilty.

I was originally sent to Auburn Correctional Facility, before the DOCCS people put 2 and 2 together and figured out that JO's CANNOT be sent initially to adult state prison, and thus sent me back to county before my mom would freak out and try to sue everyone (even though I doubt she could).

Another week of an adult county jail later, with CO's getting mad at me because they wanted to see me rot in adult prison, I was resentenced to an OCFS (Office Of Children and Family Services) "Secure Center", which I had no idea what it was at the time.

Not three hours after I got back to county jail, an OCFS "Intake Specialist" came into one of the attorney-inmate visiting rooms with me to interview me for my "needs and requirements", and as to what facility I would go to.

Basically, there were 3 facilities I could have gone to, one of which I did for the remaining 8 months of my sentence:

1. The biggest, Brookwood Secure Center, near Albany, had the mental health unit, which the intake specialist originally thought would be best for me, but I said I wanted something closer, so...
2. Goshen Secure Center, near the City, was out of the question. Plus, that facility was mostly meant for juveniles near the City, or with sex offenses.
3. The facility I ended up going to was MacCormick Secure Center, near the city of Ithaca in Southern-Central New York State. It was the smallest, and closest, with only 1 1/2 hours away and only up to 40 residents.

A week after THAT, I was transferred to MacCormick by local county CO's.

The first thing that caught me was the MASSIVE amount of razor wire fencing around the facility. I was used to a little, with some tall walls, so when I saw the huge triple-layer razor-wire fences, I LITERALLY said out loud "This place looks like a concentration camp!"

It took the CO's about an hour to find the "truck trap", which the MacCormick staff called the gated way in which transport vans go to and from the facility, and into (or out of) the great sharp fences.

A staff member (Who were called "YDA's", or "Youth Division Aides"), met me at the door and walked me and the CO's through a back garage, through some hallways, and into a small solitary confinement/"Infirmary" area with 2 cells, where I was unshackled and locked in for a little bit until things got arranged.

I was allowed my bible, and a few other things I got from county (unlike adult prison, which only allowed bible).

Within the next 24 hours, I spent most of the time in the Infirmary. It was a "safety precaution" to find out whether or not the juvenile "resident" (NOTE: they were called "residents", not "inmates") was sick, suicidal, both, or something else wrong (suicidal, some of the time, since most kids there had a LOT longer sentences than I did, a few having up to life in prison). Should everything go right, they would be assigned to one of four wings: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, or Delta.

The staff gave me 3 sets of the basic uniform and bedding. The basic uniform was white undies, white long socks, all bright red t-shirts and sweatpants, and bright red sweatshirt (which was optional). Then, later in my stay, I would get the "school" uniform, including bright-red golf shirts and beige elastic-waist khaki pants.

I did my 24 hours of assessment, sleep, some recreation alone with a staff, and then when I woke up in the morning after breakfast (which was considerably better than adult county jail's oatmeal), I was taken to Delta Unit.

I walked down a long corridor, down some hallways, and eventually got to the large steel door to Delta. When it opened, the other residents were already awoken and surprised by my appearance.

For one, and not to be racist AT ALL, but it was the truth: I was only 1 of 2 Caucasian residents in the facility, out of 30-35 other "minority" residents. Being practically the only resident they'd seen that was white, they were surprised.

Now, I had learned from adult jail that to survive, I had to be social, but not TOO social or involved. And so, I said my informal greetings and got my informal welcomes, and things turned out good at first.

Now, I might reach a limit as far as characters for this post, so let me just describe first the first few days and some of the things that stood out to me the most:

TOP 5 THINGS THAT STOOD OUT TO ME THE MOST AT MACCORMICK SECURE CENTER:

5. The food being better than county.

4. The language being allowed there (cursing, swearing, etc...)

3. The staff going behind each other's backs sometimes

2. The counselors having handcuffs in their back-pockets.

1. I kid you not, the Honors unit had an XBOX 360. (Fortunately, I was on Bravo unit the last few months I was there when it was practically the Honor's Unit, and I got to play some Madden, but WHAT THE HECK IS THAT DOING IN A MAXIMUM-SECURITY JUVENILE FACILITY????)

---------------

Alright, that's all for THIS post. I will reply probably tomorrow with more info.

For now, just ask questions and I will do my best to answer.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:40 PM
Minor activist Minor activist is offline
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What kept you going during the worst times?

What, if anything, did the system do to raise your chances of staying on the outside now?

What did you do while you were there that helped you most in staying out afterward?
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Old 11-08-2016, 07:14 AM
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I know this is not appropriate, but when you described the school *uniform* I pictured
Jake, Jake from State farm.

Glad you are out now and hopefully doing better.
Keep doing that
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Old 11-12-2016, 03:50 PM
LordNick343 LordNick343 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minor activist View Post
What kept you going during the worst times?

What, if anything, did the system do to raise your chances of staying on the outside now?

What did you do while you were there that helped you most in staying out afterward?
1. Mainly, my family and the fact that I had a short sentence, thus allowing me to realistically think positively about the free world.

2. Not that much, to be honest. The thing that kept me out so far was myself and my family's efforts.

3. I always kept a journal to write in, so that I could remember how I was feeling and when, and I took as much advice as I could with a grain of salt or two (depending on the source) about how to re-adjust to society.
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Old 11-13-2016, 02:05 AM
Minor activist Minor activist is offline
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Journaling, self-taught re-entry counseling, and support to move to, do I have that right?

Did your family urge you to stay on course with classes and programming?

Could you have made it without their visits?

What did they do for support that some kind of official program could provide for other inmates who don't have a family to help?

Did you have education and a library? Were they good or a farce?
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Old 11-13-2016, 12:08 PM
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I don't think that any program can do what a persons family can do. Don't get me wrong, there are good programs out there, but they won't fight for a person like their family will and can't provide the emotional support that family can. That is just my personal opinion though. Maybe the experiences of others have been different.
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Old 11-13-2016, 02:49 PM
LordNick343 LordNick343 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tina View Post
I don't think that any program can do what a persons family can do. Don't get me wrong, there are good programs out there, but they won't fight for a person like their family will and can't provide the emotional support that family can. That is just my personal opinion though. Maybe the experiences of others have been different.
It was called the "Office of Children and Family Services" because of the "idea" that family and children could be re-united, except that it doesn't work like that. Most of the kids that misbehave do it because they have basically no family, no real friends, nothing to lose from wailing out.

So, yes, it mostly goes along with the fact that family is the only group of people that can truly advocate for you and support you, in my honest opinion.
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Old 11-13-2016, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by LordNick343 View Post
It was called the "Office of Children and Family Services" because of the "idea" that family and children could be re-united, except that it doesn't work like that. Most of the kids that misbehave do it because they have basically no family, no real friends, nothing to lose from wailing out.

So, yes, it mostly goes along with the fact that family is the only group of people that can truly advocate for you and support you, in my honest opinion.
I tend to think the kids still have something to lose even if what they lose is't healthy. A loss is a loss. A child that doesn't have a family that is willing to fight for them will have to learn to except what isn't there. A child that has a family that will fight for them can still cause themselves to experience that same type of loss. Sometimes it's through Child Welfare Services and sometimes it is through Juvenile Probation. However, the loss that is experienced by a child with a family that is willing to do what it takes will experience a short term loss rather than a more permanent one. Again this is just what i have learned through my different experiences with CWS and Juvenile Probation.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:18 PM
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Did you have to go through strip searches? If so, how were they done?
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:08 PM
LordNick343 LordNick343 is offline
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After a month of this being up, I've finally decided to give a big update on the rest of my story as far as the juvenile system.

But first, let me answer some quick questions before I get started again:

(Keep in mind that I will from now on update very rapidly to get this off my mind).

"Q: Did you have to go through strip searches? If so, how were they done?"

A: Yes, I did. Only during visits, although they were also done for various trips in/out (say, medical).

They were lenient compared to the 2-3 strip searches a week in adult county jail. The juvenile strip searches only went down to underwear in most cases, after I was trusted after the first few.

"Q: Journaling, self-taught re-entry counseling, and support to move to, do I have that right?"

A: Just about, yes.

"Q: Did your family urge you to stay on course with classes and programming?"

A: My family was the main support for me there. If it weren't for them, I don't know where I'd be.

"Q: Could you have made it without their visits?"

A: Maybe, maybe not, but I'll never know for sure. All I know is that I always looked forward to visitation.

"Q: What did they do for support that some kind of official program could provide for other inmates who don't have a family to help?"

A: Well, the facility was run partly by "Office of Children and Family Services", so the main goal was to reunite the juvenile with any appropriate family, so long as the unification was healthy. There were also some programs for dealing with anger, drug rehabilitation, and mental health, but I can't recall what they did for those who had absolutely no family support.

"Q: Did you have education and a library? Were they good or a farce?"

A: The place had a LOT better library than adult county jail (granted, it was state juvenile school/facility). That, and the teachers weren't substitute GED tutors; They were accredited, licensed teachers who taught state-approved courses and had a full school year schedule for the facility.

The teachers meant the best, but it was up to the juvenile whether or not that education would be used properly.

P.S: I already had my high school diploma from a program in adult county jail, so when I got to MacCormick, they allowed me to do some college credit courses online.
-------------------

Anyways, Let's get to the story:

PART 2: THE FIRST FEW DAYS:

Ah, Delta Unit, the memories. Bad ones, mostly, but memories nonetheless.

My second day there, I was classified from the infirmary to Delta Unit, or D Unit. There were, of course, A, B, C, and D units (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta). The unit structures and vibes were all different. I was only on D unit for 2 months, and B unit for the other 6, but I'll get to that soon.

Anyways, here were some things I noticed on my first day in Delta Unit:

1. When I first walked through the door, I first noticed the other residents, all different kinds of people, (me being the sore thumb, one of the extremely few white people in the building, and I don't mean to be racist, but honest). It must have been about 8 AM on a Saturday, I remember, because everyone was brushing their teeth for brunch when I walked through the pod door.

It was 8 other residents on D unit at the time. About 3 or 4 of them introduced themselves to me (which, for jail, REALLY surprised me), 1 just stood a little staring, because, again, I was a sore thumb sticking out, and the other 3 kept their distance, watching to see what I'd do.

I went to brunch, (Which is only on weekends, just brunch and dinner, while weekdays are breakfast, lunch, and then dinner), where one of the residents decided to be a help and advise me about a few "unspoken rules" around the place. Basically, things like "Try not to pace around and make everyone nervous", or "when there's one person in the public bathroom, and there's no staff there, wait till they come out, or the staff might think you'll start a fight with them not around."

I got along with everyone well, for the first few days.

Later that night, there was a pizza party for the whole unit, for the unit had a whole 2 months of no codes (fights/incidents requiring restraint or staff backup). Even though I was just arriving, I was invited anyways by the unit counselor.

It was all good...

...Until evening of Sunday, my first witnessing in that place, or any place, of a huge incident.

We were all gathered around, laughing, talking... well, almost all of us.

One of the guys who I thought was the quiet type, he was walking through to the TV room, and one of the guys nodded their head at another, and next thing I know, EVERY RESIDENT but me picked up a chair/phone/whatever and proceeded to jump the "quiet" guy.

It was a mess. Everyone had to lock in their rooms for the night, except for me and someone who was asleep when it happened. Some were transferred to other units in the same building. One person was put in the infirmary for a few days and then after he was that transferred to another facility across the state!

But hey, I got the TV remote access for the night. (C'mon, trying to add a little humor here).

--------------------

Tuesday, I talked to the counselor, who explained some more stuff to me and told me that "stuff like what happened Sunday usually doesn't happen, but when it does, we can barely control it once it starts off."

We got some people from other units in exchange for the people kicked off D unit, and then some, bringing the total to a crowded 10 residents in a small unit.

---------------------

Like I said, I will post more often, so sorry for the delay. Stay tuned!

-Nick.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:42 AM
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Im sure that Sunday nite fight was unnerving.
Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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