Behind bars: four teens in prison tell their stories
L.A. Youth by Nicholas Williams
When I arrived at Central Juvenile Hall, I was expecting guards, watch towers, basically the setting of the Shawshank Redemption. I was told to wait in a small lobby room, which separated the prison from the outside world. While waiting, I saw a few inmates getting on a bus. They wore handcuffs and carried brown paper bags behind their backs. I wondered what these kids did. I looked at each one, trying to guess his crime. "Maybe he robbed a store, maybe he killed somebody, maybe he was selling drugs." Some people might ask, why would I want to write a story about juveniles in prison? Why would anyone want to read what these criminals have to say? Who cares? It’s easy to judge juvenile criminals as bad kids, but not so easy when you’re looking into the eyes of a teenager who is going to spend life in jail.
I know there are victims of violent crimes whose voices go unheard. But recognize that some people who commit crimes have many reasons behind their actions. It’s a cycle. This is what happens to kids who didn’t have direction or anybody who cared, who had to learn about life the hard way. They were brought up this way so that’s how they’re going to treat others. Sometimes, it’s okay to give a voice to the "villains." They have been victims too.
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