I am interested in youth issues, in particular the experiences of youth in lock-down facilities. My husband, now a special education teacher in Cheyenne, Wyoming, spent the previous seven years at a juvenile facility in Lakewood, Colorado, where offenders with mental health needs often spent a portion of their sentence. Also housed were teens who spent time in the facility has part of drug-rehab; and also teens who had no offences at all but were placed there because of a lack of foster-care placements in the area.
I must say that my husband and I came away feeling very discouraged a about these types of facilities--in fact, in many cases, the kids were in better shape mentally than many of the staff and teachers. In some cases, treatment was actually withheld as a means of punishment when a teen did not follow the rules--the idea that someone in a "rehab" oriented facility would be denied a 12 step meeting as a punishment was simply appalling. Very few kids in this facility seemed to be helped by their placement--if a few of them got better, it was generally because they were a little stronger and managed to resist all of the negativity there. A friend of mine in Toronto with lots of experience in this area says that, sadly, this is more common then not. I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with teens. Thanks!
One pertinent note from today's news: Democracy Now aired an interview today with a couple of the kids being prosecuted in the Jena Six case. Apparently at least one of them -- who happens to have asthma -- was maced a number of times while in custody.
I work in the field of juvenile corrections. It sounds as if your husband worked at a private facility rather that a state facility. I have never worked in a private facility so my knowledge is limited. I do ask though that people be careful in their judgements about people who work in the field. There are many dedicated heartful people who work in the field who wish things were different as well. But most people do the best they can with the resources they have and the resources they have are dependent on the good will of the voters and legislators. I have yet to meet anyone in the field who has bad intentions, and as a sociologist by training, that is not what I was expecting to see. I came to this forum hoping to meet others who work in the field of corrections who also study or are interested in Dharma. Hmmm, I will stop here.
I agree that that facility sounds like a private one. I teach in a juvenile justice school & therapeutic services are never withheld. However, when SC contracted with a private company to provide a secure educational/therapeutic facility, it was a disaster, complete with injured children & staff. Unlike many of my colleagues who say that "God led" them to work with youthful offenders, I came to work there because I needed a job. It's been a transforming experience and I definitely feel that my work has become a devotion.