Survivor of California Youth Authority Tells His Story

by TChris

Earlier this year, TalkLeft called attention to the California Youth Authority's dismal treatment of incarcerated children. Here's the first person account of a young man who entered the system at age 10 and stayed for five years on a two year sentence.

When they put me in YA, they didn't sit down with me and say, 'We're feeling what you're going through, we want to help you.' It wasn't like that. What they did was lock me up, throw me in the cage, take me to the psychologist, he diagnosed me as crazy, and they gave me drugs. That was the solution.

The purpose of YA is to rehabilitate you. But they didn't rehabilitate me, and they don't rehabilitate other people. There are people who work for YA that are more criminally minded than the young people in there. You've got staff sleeping with wards, you've got staff secretively bringing drugs for wards. Some staff would beat up wards.

When you are in that predicament it seems hopeless. There was a sense of hopelessness in everybody. Everybody was gang banging. You're in an atmosphere where you have to protect yourself, where you had to become somebody that you weren't.

California would benefit by listening carefully to kids like J.T.

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