Interview by Rebecca Crocker
Thursday, May 18, 2000
"I ran away from home when I was 13 because I started to go out with this gang member and doing drugs. I chose a bad path. I was brought up by a good family and they did a lot for me. My grandparents are the best, it was just me that had the problems.
"Everyone in here knows I'm not a bad kid. I'm a really loving person. I used to gang bang. I have these dots on my arm but I'm trying to take them off little by little. The first time I was in here someone had a needle, and we did it.
"I started with all this because of my mother. She's homeless, she lives on the streets of Salinas. She's a drug addict real bad. She's really not there no more, we've lost our mom. I have one brother and three other sisters, but we got all separated because we have different dads.
"I got stuck with my grandparents. They raised me, they're my mom and dad basically. I haven't seen my mom in two years. I don't know who my dad is, I've been trying to look for him, but I don't know where to start. I see my brother some, he started gang banging first. We've been locked up twice together here. That broke both of our hearts, this is not a place we thought we'd end up in.
"I don't believe that people my age should be in a place like this, it's very unsanitary. They don't treat us humanely here, they treat us like animals. I don't believe in that mace thing, they don't need that to control someone my age. We're not all bad here, some do cruel things but people need to ask, 'Why do they do it?' There's always a reason behind everything.
"This place makes you think too much, makes you dwell on your problems. I guess that's why Juvenile Hall is here. My heart tells me I won't be back here. I started praying a lot to God and I do my Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The words of an old gangster that came to church inspired me and I felt something inside. Something told me to get on my knees and pray-to ask God to take all the bad parts of me and just fill it in with good. I want to be normal.
"I say 'What's six months, when I got years to come?' I see the light at the end of the tunnel."