My Outlook Changed After My Time in Juvenile Hall

by Aaron Jackson
Also Featured on KQED

My Outlook Changed After My Time in Juvenile Hall

by Aaron Jackson
Also Featured on KQED
07.11.19
Aaron Jackson found housing and re-enrolled in school after his stint in juvenile hall. (Photo credit: Shawn Wen)
07.11.19

I was only locked up in juvenile hall for a short time. But honestly, it changed my whole perspective on life. When I walked in, they showed me to my cell. It was a small room — with the bed and toilet right next to each other. 

I was let out for quick showers, rec time, and meals. The food wasn’t good at all. I didn’t want to eat. And the other kids in there were hard. I kept my head down to avoid any problems. 

Before I was locked up, everything was going downhill. I was sleeping in a truck. I wasn’t in school.

So, behind bars, I had a lot of time to think. I told myself, “This is not the life you want to live.” I realized I needed to be my own person. And alone, in that cell, I found myself. 

Juvenile hall let me hit the reset button on life. When I came out, they placed me in school. From the first day, when the teacher said, “This is Aaron, he’s the new student,” things felt right. I made friends. My personality changed. I became open and more positive. I realized all those years, when I didn’t have stable housing and was out of school, I was isolated from my peers. 

Several months after I was let out of juvenile hall, I moved to a group home… I know a lot of people have bad experiences in group homes. But for me, it’s been great. This feels like my first real home in a long time. There are staff members I can talk to. Every night, I sit down for dinner with other residents. There are some guys in here I call my brothers.

I know I got back in school and into housing, in part, because I was incarcerated. But it shouldn’t take a stint in juvie for someone like me to get the services in place to thrive. 

Now, I’m on track to graduate from high school. And I feel very hopeful about my future. I know I’m going to go far.

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