It was a rainy day when the head of the youth center department said to me, “are you ready to go to our jail?”. All of sudden, I felt so creepy remembering all the bad people I saw in movies and the fact that U.S is the world’s highest incarceration rate. In our way to the Jackson County Youth Center (JCYC), He began to explain all kind of violations that made the kids had to get detention/treatment for that. It was even worse to realize that those crimes were done by children. So on top of my head was dangerous code alert.
Fyi, JCYC is a juvenile detention facility that serves the needs of court involved youth (under 16 years old). The Youth Center is a part of the Jackson County Family Court Division of Circuit Court. All residents are lodged here by court order. JCYC provides two programs within the continuum of juvenile services in Jackson County which are detention and residential treatment (https://www.co.jackson.mi.us/1762/About-Us)
When we arrived and entered the office, people were smiling brightly and introducing themselves. Some carried electric gun, some didn’t. I also saw some screens that monitor kids activity in jail (they called it detention area). Even though I never went or visited Jail before, but to me it was pretty normal to have all of those security tools especially engaging with people that did crime.
I was so surprised and impressed when I began to explore the whole department. I went to all the facilities that the JCYC provides. And trust me, it didn’t look creepy at all, it was colorful and wonderful.
There are a gymnasium where you can play or exercise, an outdoor field for playing basketball, a dining room that full of mural, a reading room full of popular novels, and a class room that designed really sophisticated (cause they already used electric board). They also have regular classes that teachers come and go, and many others fun activities. I was so amazed on how these people try to make everything in this place to look as fun and normal as it should.
According to the head of youth center department, their job is to bring back the children with positive impact to the society, not to punish them and lock them out from outside world. They are dealing with children who have not fully aware of what they’ve been doing. So it takes patient and tenderness to teach those types of children. Even though the guards were carrying security tools, they have obligation to treat the children gently.
It was such a valuable experience and it was help me to be more open minded.
Everyone has the same right to be treated the same way because everyone is precious.
I sure learned a lot.
PS : It is prohibited to take photo of the children.