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Testimonials - Youth Testimonials

Give Us a Chance

Most kids do stuff because theyre having problems in their family, to get attention not all of them, but most of them.   - Detained boy in Calcasieu Parish

People need to know that we can change our lives.  We can be rehabilitated.  We can see the answers to our problems.  -Detained youth

When asked their dreams when they were older, youth gave the following responses:

I dream of living a happy life and having a family that cares about and loves me.

Getting out and raising a family.

Go to JobCorps and get a career going

Becoming a counselor and a cook.  I want to counsel problem kids and work with them with cooking.  (Cooking therapy).

Be successful a rap star or basketball player

My dream for my life is to go offshore, get a house, a family and a nice car.  

On Being In Jail

Locking us up just makes us more hard. Detained youth

I do wrong but this is all I know.  Ive been to jail too many times.  I need help.  Jail only helps you talk to others who did the same thing and learn how to do it better.  - 16 year-old incarcerated boy

Being locked up is particularly painful and difficult for children.  When asked what they miss most being away from home, kids in detention and in prisons answered:

My Mom and my Dad.

Having fun with family and seeing them every day.

I cant wait to hug and kiss my little niece,

My mother, my sisters, my brothers, my whole family, the people I was close to

I just miss going to the fridge in the middle of the night,

A hot bath

sleeping in my own bed,

When Im in here, says one boy who is in his third month of detention, I worry about my family being safe.  I miss fishingjust being alone for awhile and having time to think.


    When asked what they would change about the youth prisons, kids answered:

I would try to stop all the violence.

Id let friends and girlfriends come and visit.

I would stop sergeants from messing kids over abusing them.  I would use the cameras more, and get them to stop acting untouchable and pushing kids.

I would try my best to get new sergeants cause these ones bring in contraband

I would go around the dorms to see what offenders need

I would try to have incentives for those that are doing well

I would put radios in every dorm

The way things is.  The way some of the staff be treating us.  Some treat us bad, some treat us good.  Treat everyone equal.

I would make the security stricture use the cameras because the officers beat the kids up outside.  I would not have them give tickets for play fights, they are ridiculous.

I would have people helping people giving them more options and things to open their mind up to.  

On Public Defense

I wish my lawyer would really talk to me not just out in the hallway My lawyer never spoke to me.  I had no idea what was going on.  Im not even sure who my attorney was No one came to see me since Ive been in detention.  My case just keeps getting reset so Ive been here awhile.  Ive never talked to a lawyer yet Just because we are little doesnt mean we dont have an opinion   -Excerpted from conversations with detained youth  

When asked what lawyers could do to better represent them, youths gave the following responses:

Talk to me, get to know me Listen to what I have to say, listen to whats going on because people do change. When I first come to court ask me questions before we go in front of the judge. Get to know me better before they send me off to places and stuff.  Try to come down to our level and give good advice. Spend time with me.  Listen to myside of the story he told me you have to take this plea bargain.  Didnt want to hear the facts.  In court he wouldnt say anything on my behalf.  A lot of people get sentenced to time, and the time they get sentenced to dont match the crime and the young people really do need help in juvenile corrections.

I heard they [public defenders] go to the judges chambers to make a deal dont sell me out Get me in a program to really help me Look into getting us into programs to help us change Try to put me with one of my grandparents instead of locking me up Talk to the judge and let him know Im sorry Ask the judge to give me another chance.  -Excerpts from conversations with detained youth

On the Court System

I was told when I was sentenced that if I did well in LTI Id get a review and get a chance on early release but I havent heard from a lawyer or my PO since being locked up.  Ive been doing real good in the program, not gotten any tickets but its like the court and everybody just forgot about me.  -Incarcerated youth

Give Us a Chance


On the above date and time (6-11-02) I C.S. tried to get some justice but they (Tallulah staff) just dont seem to be feeling me.  So I feel like Im not being treated like the rest of the youth.  Even though Im the only black American striving for a better life but if it takes making a big civil rights movement then thats what I must do. Incarcerated youth

On Being In Jail


when I came here they told me it was to get treatment and work through my problems, and nowhere on that paper did it say I was coming up here to get abused.  Theyre giving us more problems than we have already.  And they wonder why we trying to hang ourselves, getting in fights, taking pills.  They shouldnt bring no more children here because it only makes them worse.  I never used to cut myself before coming here.  How can you focus on your own problems when they giving you more? Incarcerated youth



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