Tag Archives: Child Incarceration

Lies & Shackles Part II: The Refusal

I eventually settled in to this alternate universe of girls who knew what it was like to be homeless; girls who took medication for STDs; girls who quizzed me constantly about the pleasures of middle class life, and the exotic privilege of being landed in youth detention by a pissed off (though entirely mentally ill) Mom.
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I tried to fit in as much as possible. We were denied hair accessories and the like, so I learned to tie my hair in a knot so that it would stay out of my way. I began, for the first time, to drink milk, as we were often served only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk. My Mother would often send cards to me, which she would spray with her perfume, Design, I believe it was called. She would tell me that she missed me and wanted me to come home. I remember very well the Fourth of July, and knowing that my boyfriend at the time- for whom my Mother’s annihilation campaign was in large part responsible for my current situation- would be attending Ozzfest 2000 in Atlanta. I remember peeking through the small bars of my cell wondering if I would catch a glimpse of fireworks…from somewhere.

I had a court date of some sort approaching. I was never told why I was going to court, or who would be there, just that I would be transported. So again, I was handcuffed and shackled, and placed in the back of a police car and taken to a courthouse in Effingham County, Georgia, a county to which I had never lived and had no discernable ties. Of course, nothing up to this point had been making sense, so I really was numb to confusion, lies, and fear. Or at least, so I thought. At some point, it was my turn to appear before a judge in my convict’s drab. Never would he have guessed that before him stood the top student in her class, the student who had spent the past year being doped by her mother on various medications to the point of sedation. Nevertheless, beyond having no idea what this hearing was about or what I was supposed to do, I was even more surprised to see my Mother there in the courtroom. I became really excited at the thought of sleeping in my own bed again. And of showering without the need for foot protection. No more squatting, No more coughing. And, no matter what wrongs my Mother had done to me, there was always that comfort of the card with the scent of Design lingering in my head. “If only she could love me like I love her.” I often felt that way about Mom and I couldn’t understand- I was too young to understand- that something fundamental inside of her was broken.  I sensed that she was out to destroy Me, I just didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t about me.
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The hearing became a blur. A short burst of formalities. Then the judge addressed my Mother directly, and all I remember is him asking her if she “felt like I could come home.” She replied “No” without shedding a tear. I was led out of the courthouse, still with with my hands cuffed and my feet shackled, back to the deputy’s car. My Mother and I never spoke. I never smelled her perfume that day.

 

 

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Lies & Shackles pt. 1

On the outskirts of the sleepy, and often stinky town of Claxton, Georgia- a town best known for its famous fruit cakes and massive chicken processing facilities- sits the Claxton Regional Youth Detention Center.  With the capability of housing thirty youth, most of whom are without families or permanent homes, the majority are wards of the state awaiting placement in a different foster home following some sort of mischief, whether drugs, fighting, or some other infraction. And while each has a story to tell, none seems to believe she has a future.  

The inmates here seem to feel at home; resigned to this life of predictability that is afforded by institutionalization. In fact, most inmates seem comfortable with their current circumstances except for one: Me. I arrived here handcuffed, shackled, and asleep in the back of a sheriff deputy’s cruiser, in a sicken stupor from a Benadryl shot I had been given prior to the hour long transport. I remembered Mom picking me up from a friend’s house and pretending we were going home, but driving in the opposite direction of where we lived. I remembered realizing her plan when we pulled up to the local jail. There, as I sat shackled to a chair, watching stumbling adults come in for booking, I began to grasp how sick my Mother was; I knew then she was willing to sacrifice me to meet her own needs, though it would take years for me to grow the courage and independence to fully separate myself from her. For the time, though, I was completely and irrevocably under her control. Worse, she was a very attractive woman who had powerful men who believed her. I watched her put on the show for a while, a sick form of entertainment that, as an insider, was often as hard to ignore as it was to watch.   

Still handcuffed and shackled, I was given a courtesy ride over to the hospital to receive the Benadryl shot, ostensibly to quell the softball-size mound growing on my right hand thanks to a sting from a yellow jacket earlier in the day. Soon enough, a single deputy and I, the fifteen year old soon-to-be juvenile delinquent, were on our way along the dark, deserted country roads to Evans County to see what lay beyond the razor wire. The intake officer in Claxton, assuming I was high on illicit drugs, was absolutely amused that I was so doped on Benadryl that I didn’t know my address, and soon enough, I was later told, everyone was in on the fun. After I was able to provide a few laughs, it was finally time for the shackles and handcuffs to come off, along with anything that was mine. As I began to regain my faculties, it was time to strip down, squat and cough, and take a shower with RID. Lice free and thoroughly inspected by the female guard, I was issued Ill fitted clothing and shoes, and placed in a temporary cell. In what I thought was just a first night ritual of some sort, the light was turned on and off by a passing guard each hour. Silly me.