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.