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How Committing A Crime May Have Saved My Life
The Junvenile Detention Center Was Safer Than Being At Home
When I was nine years old my little brother and I were both grounded for stealing bread from the kitchen and eating it. We were locked in the unfinished side of the basement in my mothers home until my mother felt that we had learned our lesson. My oldest sister's instructions for the two of us was simple, just leave us in the basement for the day. My brother and I knew it was going to be a good day for us, my mother was going to be gone all day and our cousin and her husband were gone for the weekend. We were going to left alone for an entire day.
As soon as we heard my mothers car leave the driveway, we started to make our plans for the day. First we decided that we were going to sneak out of the basement window to pick some apples from the neighbors tree and bring them back inside the house to eat later. While we were outside picking apples, we watched as one of our neighbors brought her daughter to our house. We snuck back through the basement window into the house to find out what was going on. It turned out that our neighbor was going to spend the weekend out of town and she wanted my oldest sister to baby sit her daughter while she was gone. We listened as she told my sister where to find the key to her house if she needed anything for her daughter that she had not brought with her.
After she left, my brother and I quickly made a plan to sneak over to our neighbors house to get something to eat after my sister had put everyone down for a nap. My sister liked to smoke a little weed when my mother was not home and she usually smoked her weed while everyone was down for a nap. After patiently waiting several hours, my sister finally went outside to smoke her weed and after a few minutes we heard her come back into the house and go to her room. A little while later, we could hear her snoring and decided that now was the perfect time to sneak out of the house. We had not had anything to eat for a few days, not being allowed to eat was part of the punishment for getting grounded. My brother and I earned the grounding the weekend before when we were caught taking a loaf of bread from the kitchen into our room which was upstairs at the time. As part of our punishment our room was moved into the basement where we would not be able to sneak upstairs and get into the food in the kitchen without getting caught. We had already eaten the cat food from the cat bowls in the basement and we were starving.
I was overwhelmed with excitement as my little brother and I made our way through the back yards to our neighbors house. We found the key right where she had said it was and used it to open the backdoor into the kitchen. We ran straight to the refrigerator and grabbed everything we could put into our pockets. My brother began to look through the cupboards to find something we could take home with us to eat. We found some cookies, a package of Twinkies, and a bag of candy (M&M's I think). As we were about to leave, my brother announced that he had to use the bathroom and he headed upstairs to use the bathroom. While he was in the bathroom, he looked in the bathroom cupboards and found what he thought was a toy gun and grabbed it. When he came back downstairs he showed me the gun he had found and we spent a few minutes looking at it before we decided to head back home. We headed out of the house making sure that we closed and locked the back door. After we put the key back where we had found it, we heard our older sister coming around the side of the house. We quietly ran around the house and raced back home before we were caught.
When we arrived back home, we found the window that we had snuck out of closed and locked. My chest felt as if it were caving in and then started to tingle, I started to panic. What were we going to do? My brother whispered to me, "Lets go", and I followed him to our other neighbors yard. I chased my little brother to another neighbors barn, where we would spend the next several hours until it was dark. While we were waiting, we ate the food we had taken and played with the toy gun my brother had found.
When it started to get dark, we decided that we should go home. As we were climbing down the ladder from the hay loft, we heard our sister outside the barn calling our names and threatening to kill us if we did not go to her. We raced back up the ladder and jumped behind some hay just as my sister came through the door right below us. My little brother was terrified, as he laid in the hay hiding, he reached into his pocket for the gun and pulled it out. He slowly looked over the edge of the loft and pointed the gun at my sister and pulled back the hammer. He then pretended to shoot her several times before he got scared and ducked back down behind the hay. My sister spent the next few minutes searching the barn for us calling out our names and continued to threaten to kill us if we did not come out. After a minute or two walking around looking inside the horse stalls below us, she gave up and left. When we felt that she had gone, we quietly climbed down the ladder and headed for home.
We were about halfway home when she caught is crossing the road behind our house. Out of fear, my little brother took out the toy gun he had found and threw it into the corn field behind us. My sister ordered us to go her and as we approached her, she instructed us to empty our pockets. After emptying our pockets, she announced that since our mom was not home, she was going to punish us. My brother and I spent the next hour running laps up and down our road in the dark. We were at the end of the road when a car turned the corner and pulled up behind us. The driver blew the horn and stopped the car, we heard the car get taken out of gear and the emergency brake pedal being pushed down. The drivers side door opened and my mother stepped out of the car.
After yelling at us for being out of the basement and outside after dark, she screamed an order at us to get back to the house. We started walking towards the house and as she climbed back into the car she bellowed an order for us to run. As we ran back to the house, my mother drove her car right behind us blowing the horn and yelling for us to run faster. When we reached the house, we ran inside and down to the basement to wait for our punishment. My brother and I quietly sat on our beds waiting for the order to come upstairs to our mother's room. After what seemed like an eternity, the order came and we headed upstairs.
My mother was lying on her bed when we entered her room, she was holding a plate of spaghetti and between bites told us about her day. After she finished eating her dinner, she set the plate down on her bed and called my brother to her. When he went to her she wrapped her arms around his head and hugged him. She then pulled him up onto the bed and sat him in her lap kissing him on the forehead and pulled him close to her chest. She then started to question him where we had gone earlier that day. My brother started to cry and told her that we had gone to the neighbors house. She then asked him whose idea it was to leave the house and go into our neighbors house, he told her that it was my idea and that I had forced him to go with me. He then told her everything that we had done while we were gone except the part about the gun, he left that part out. When he was done talking, she accused me of trying to turn her baby boy towards Satan and that I was going to be punished for my sins. I told me that she was too tired to deal with this right now and that she would let my cousin deal with me when she came back from her trip the following day. To be honest, I would rather have the worst punishment my mother has ever dished out than be punished by my cousin.
As I turned to go downstairs to go to bed, my other instructed me to take off my pants and shoes and hand them to her. After removing my pants and shoes and placing them on her lap, she instructed my sister to go downstairs and grab all of my pants from my dresser downstairs and bring them to her. She then sarcastically stated that she did not want me running away int he middle of the night. I was then warned that if I did run away she would call the sheriff and have me arrested for being unruly. I would be sent to the "JDH" where I would be castrated, put into solitary confinement, and fed bread and water until I was eighteen. When she was done speaking, I was ordered to go to bed.
I laid in my bed for an hour or two until the house was completely quiet. All I could think of was that stupid toy gun, I was really worried about it. The thought of someone else finding it was unbearable, so I decided it was worth the risk to sneak out of the house and get it. So in the middle of the night, I snuck outside wearing a t-shirt, socks, and underpants to retrieve the toy gun. After making my way to the spot I though we had left it, I began to panic. There was a lot of traffic and I was scared that I was going to get caught, I did not want to go the the detention home. I quickly ran to the spot in the corn field where I thought the gun would be. I was lucky and found it the first time I touched the ground to feel around for it. What a relief, the only thing that had gone right that day was finding that gun on the first try.
It was still dark and quiet when I climbed back through the basement window, no one knew that I had left the house. As a precaution I had unlocked every window in the basement before I lef the house. I snuck into the laundry room and opened the dryer to look at the gun. This was actually the first time that I had held it for more than a few seconds. The gun was heavier than I remembered it being, but it was really cool. It was silver with real wooden hand grips. There was writing on the side that said this gun was a .357 Magnum and it was made by Smith and Wesson. I opened the cylinder to see what kind of caps it took and was surprised to see six gaping holes that were much larger than the cap guns I had played with before. After several minutes of pretend shooting of bad guys, I hid the gun under the broken drawer at the bottom of my dresser and went to bed. I quickly fell asleep and slept soundly until the following morning.
I was awakened by the sound of my mother yelling my name for me to go upstairs. I jumped out of bed and ran as fast as I could up to her room. When I arrived to her room, she told me that I had to get ready to go to a visit with my dad and threw a pair of jeans and my shoes at me. When he arrived he was asked to come into the house so that my mother could talk to him. While I was in the shower, the neighbor had called my mother to see how her daughter was doing. During that conversation she was told about me and my little brother entering her house and she said that she was going to press charges. My mother agreed with her and told my dad that we had gone into the neighbors home the day before and that the neighbor was very upset. She neglected to tell my father that she was going to press charges.
My dad took my sisters and I to church and on the way home started to ask me questions about what my brother and I was doing going into other peoples houses. He then asked me if I had taken anything from her house, I told him that we took a cap gun from her house and that we threw it away when our sister found us. When we got home, my dad took me out to go and find the cap gun. After wandering around the corn field for a half hour or so, my dad grabbed me by my arm and told me to go and get the cap gun from where ever I hid it. He knew it was not out lying in the corn field. He followed back to the house and into the basement andand watched as I dug out the gun from my dresser. I will never forget the look on my dad's face as I handed him the cap gun. He grabbed the gun from me in a rather rough manner and immediately opened the cylinder, he rolled his eye and exhaled very loudly as he slammed the cylinder closed. He then raised his voice and yelled at me asking me what the hell I was thinking. I just started crying, he then turned to my mother and showed her the cap gun and yelled to her, "What would you have done if this thing was loaded and he started shooting this thing in the house?". My mother asked him what he was talking about and he yelled back to her that I had brought a handgun in to the house not some "damn" toy. My little brother found an unloaded handgun in her bathroom and I brought it into the house. In retrospect, had that gun been loaded, my little brother could have shot and killed my oldest sister while she was in the barn looking for us. After my dad left, my mother instructed me to remove my pants and shoes and give them back to her. She then told me that the neighbor was going to press charges against me and that I was going to be arrested by the Sheriff the next day. She then sent me to bed telling me that I should get a good nights sleep because my life was going to be living hell starting tomorrow.
The following morning, I woke up lying on the floor with my mattress lying on top of me. My cousin and her husband had returned from their weekend trip and mother wasted no time telling them what had happened over the weekend. Then someone grabbed my arm and pulled me out from under the mattress and threw me to the floor. When I turned my head to see who it was all I saw was a hand. The next thing I saw was the cement floor, my cousin had hit me across the head with her wooden paddle and I am pretty sure she knocked me out. I was being shaken by someone and being ordered to get up before I was shown what pain is. Then someone grabbed me by the hair on the back of my head and pulled me to my feet. I was then grabbed by the throat and dragged up the two flights of stairs to the living room where I was thrown to the floor and forced to lay on my stomach. Then someone sat on my back and someone else began to hit me on my lower back and buttocks with a paddle. who ever was hitting me with the paddle was also hitting whom ever was sitting on my back because that person, I think it was my cousin told who ever was hitting me to watch it because they were hitting her hands. I began to wriggle around to get who ever was on my back off of me because I could not breathe. Suddenly the person on my back got off of me and put their foot on the back of my head and grabbed my arms and pulled them up and back which was more painful than the spanking. I remember trying to get away when the foot on my head moved to the back of my neck. Then everything went black.
When I woke up, I was still lying on my stomach on the floor of the living room. I rolled over to see what was going on. As I rolled to my side, I was told to not get up and to get back on my stomach. I was then instructed to thank my mother for telling my cousin and her husband to stop spanking me. She was angry because my mother told them to stop because she made me pass out by holding her foot on my neck. She felt that the spanking should continue because I was finally lying still and taking the punishment. My mother interrupted by telling her that she did not want me getting hurt because I was going to the Sheriff's Office later that day to be arrested for taking the gun and breaking into the neighbors house. My cousin then told me that when I get back, she was going to finish what she started. She told me that she was going to break my hands for stealing, break my feet for running away, and beat my butt so hard that I would not be able to sit for a month. I was going to wish that I had gone to jail when I get back from the Sheriff's Office. She then told her husband to stand me up. He made me stand up facing him, then he forced me to my knees and ordered to me to get into a fetal position. He then grabbed my arms and put them behind my back and held them in place in the middle of my back. Then he knelt down on the floor with his groin over the back of my head and his knees on my shoulders. I heard my cousin stand up and walk behind me. She did three soft taps on my buttocks and feet and then resumed hitting me with the paddle on my buttocks, lower back and the bottom of my feet. She broke one of my toes and fractured my left foot. The only thing I could do was cry, I was pinned and I could not move at all. Then the door bell rang and every one froze. My cousin's husband rolled me over and put his hand ver my mouth to muffle my crying. He stood me up and dragged me backwards into the bathroom and laid me on my back. To keep me quiet he put his hand over my mouth and put his knees on my chest making it very hard for me to breathe.
I could hear the door open and my mother talking to who ever was at the door. The person at the door was a Sheriff's Deputy, he was there to arrest me and take me to the Sheriff's Office to process me and assign a court date. My cousin's husband immediately jumped off of me and began to look at my face for any bruises or bleeding. After he was satisfied that there was no evidence of me being hit in the face, he stood me up and threw me out into the hallway and closed the bathroom door behind me. My mother invited the Deputy upstairs to the living room and told him it would be a few minutes because I was getting ready. He told her that I did not need anything and that he would take me in what ever I was wearing because I would be back in a few hours anyway.
She then asked him what the usual process is for this kind of thing. The deputy told that I would be processed and formally charged and in a few weeks to a month or two I would have to go to court and talk to the judge. It would be up to the judge what my punishment would be. My mother then asked if I had to come back home and the Deputy told her because of my age and this being my first offense that I would be returned home. My mother then told him she felt that I might run away from home because I had done so three times in the past and that I may run away again before I went to court. The Deputy then told her that he could see what he could do to find a place for me to go until I went to court.
The Deputy then asked where I was and she pointed to me standing in the middle of the hallway. When he saw me standing in the hallway in a t-shirt, underwear, and socks he asked my mother if I had any clothes to put on. She told him that I had no clothes to wear, I had destroyed all of my clothes during the night and she had not had the time to go and buy me new clothes. The Deputy looked at her and then looked at me. He winked at me and told my mother that he had something in the car for me to wear, then asked her if I had destroyed my shoes as well. She told my sister to go and get me some shoes from her room as the Deputy went out to his car to get me something to wear.
After he went outside, my cousin's husband ran from the bathroom down to the basement. My mother started to sing to me in a whisper that I was going to jail and I was never coming back. She stopped when the Deputy knocked on the door and let himself back into the house. He handed me a pair of blue cotton pants and a shirt like the ones doctors wear to surgery. He then handcuffed me and took me down the stairs and out to the back seat of his car. The Deputy started his car and backed out of the driveway onto the street. He turned around and looked at me in the rear view mirror and asked me if I was scared. I remember looking at him in the mirror and telling him that I was not scared, I was kind of happy. He put the car in drive and drove to the county jail.
When we arrived at the jail, he parked the car and escorted me inside. I was taken to an elevator and we went to a third floor office and instructed to sit in a chair next to an empty desk covered with papers and files. Next to a pile of papers was an electric typewriter and a huge ash tray with a huge cigar poking out of the middle of a big pile of ashes. After a few minutes a tall heavyset man wearing green pants and a striped short sleeve shirt walked to the desk and sat down. He put his hand out and introduced himself to me by telling me his name and his title. I shook his hand and told him my first name. he was very pleasant and nice to me. After asking me questions like my full name, address and my fathers name, he started typing the information onto forms he had taken from his desk drawer. He took the papers out of the typewriter and set them down on the desk and took a skinny blue ink pen out of his shirt pocket. After clicking it three times, he began to ask me questions about going into my neighbors house and the gun that my brother had taken our of the house.
When he was done, he looked at me and asked me what happened to my neck. I looked down at my chest to try and see my neck and told him that I don't know what happened to my neck. He then asked me who had grabbed me by my neck and I told him that my cousin had grabbed my neck when I tripped walking down the stairs to my bedroom. He leaned back into his chair, cleared his throat and reached for his cigar in the ashtray. He dug into his pants pocket and took out a lighter and lit his cigar. After several puffs he asked me if I wanted to go home or spend the night in jail. I first told him that I wanted to go home, but then for some unknown reason I heard myself ask him if I was really going to be castrated if I go to jail. He choked on his cigar smoke and began to cough. When he was done coughing he asked me why I had asked such a question and I told him that my mother told me that if I went to jail I was going to be castrated, locked into solitary confinement, and fed nothing but bread and water until I was eighteen. He took a few seconds before he answered and told me that none of those things happen except for the solitary confinement, which is something that could happen to me to keep me safe because I was so young. He then asked me a second time where I wanted to go for the night. I chose to go to jail. He looked at me and told me that I had made a very wise choice for a young man my age. He picked up the telephone and called someone to come and escort me to the juvenile wing.
I was taken from the office to the juvenile detention center, two floors below the office where I had spent the last four hours talking to the Detective. The man who came to get me told me that he was going to take my fingerprints, let me take a shower, and take a few pictures of me once I was all cleaned up. Then he told me that if I was hungry I could have something to eat. I was taken to a room where some one took my finger prints, during the process the lady taking my prints told me that I would have to come and do the finger printing again in a few days because she could not get a good print from any of my fingers. In the next room I was instructed to remove all of my clothing. A woman came in with a camera and began to take pictures of me standing in front of a height chart, then she had me move to the center of the room where she took pictures of my entire body, even the bottoms of my feet! I was taken to a shower area and instructed to take a shower. When I was done, I was instructed to put on the clothing that was brought in for me except for shoes and socks. A man came into the shower area and looked at my feet and toes. He put some tape around my right big toe and told the other man in the room to take me to the hospital the following day to have a foot x-ray. I was then asked if I was hungry and taken to the cafeteria where I was given a tray of food. There was ham, sweet dinner rolls, corn, potato salad, red jello, and two jugs of milk. I ate everything on the tray and asked for more. The man sitting with me told me that he would get more food and got up to get me more. After eating a second tray of food the man asked me when I had had eaten my last meal. I told him that I had eaten some cookies and Twinkies that I had stolen on Saturday, but had not had anything to eat but cat food for about a week before Saturday. The man then asked why I was not eating, I told him at first that I was not allowed to talk about it, I was going home tomorrow and that I would get into trouble for talking about it. But I did tell him that not being able to eat was part of getting grounded or something that happened of I did not do my chore right.
When I was done eating, I was taken to a room with two beds made out of bricks, they had a mattress on top of them in a shallow depression. There was a pillow, sheets, and a blanket already on the bed when we arrived to the room. I was told to go to bed and get some sleep lights on would be in eight hours. The following morning when I woke up there was another boy in the room, he was fifteen or sixteen years old. He had his right toe in a bandage too, he shook my hand and told me his name. He then pointed up to the speaker above the door that was at the time playing "I love rock and roll", and told me they listen in on the cells at night and that I needed to not cry or talk at all during the night or I would get into trouble. He then told me that if I got him into trouble he would beat me up.
A few hours later I was taken to the hospital to get the foot x-ray and a cast put on it to keep it from being broken. I was told that I had a bad fracture and asked multiple times by several persons why the bottom of my feet were covered with little round bruises. My cousins paddle has fifteen holes drilled into it, these holes made blood bruises all over the bottom of my feet in addition to my lower back, buttocks, and upper hind side of my thighs. When I returned to the detention center, I was called into the office and told that I had visitors. I was a bit nervous when I opened the door to the visitation room and after I went into the room, I was terrified. Sitting in at a table in the center of the room was my mother and my cousin. When the door was closed, my cousin immediately told me that when I got out of there I was going to go home and that if I said anything to anyone about her or her husband, she was going to make sure I would never talk to anyone again. My mother then added that if I told anyone about being punished that I would have to stay in jail longer and that the same thing could happen to the rest of my siblings because they had all done bad things. I did not say anything about my home life to anyone but my roommate in the middle of the night.
It turns out they really do listen in on the rooms at night, when I went to court five days later, the prosecutor played the recording of my conversation with my room mate in the courtroom. I was remanded back to the detention center. My mother, my oldest sister, and my cousin and her husband were present in the court room that day. My mother and sister started to cry, I think my mother thought she was going to be arrested on the spot, but they weren't, but child and family services did pay a visit to my mothers house by the end of that week.
My dad was never notified about my arrest or my incarceration, he found out what had happened after he had read the arrest log in the newspaper. I spent a total of nine days in the juvenile detention center before my dad knew what was going on. I was released into his custody the day he found out I was in the detention center. I spent six months on probation and was required to see a psychologist for two years for therapy. I did not have to go back to my mothers house at all even for visitations and really had no desire to do so, I didn't even speak to her on the telephone.
I was kicked out of my old school because I was convicted of a felony, which was overturned because I did not actually remove the weapon from my neighbors house. So when I moved in with my dad, I went to a new school, was given all new clothes, and a bedroom of my own. I was fed three times a day, and I was not beaten or starved when I did something wrong. My dad is not a warm fuzzy in touch with his feelings kind of guy, but he saved my life by coming and getting me out of the detention center. Had he not taken responsibility for me, I would have been returned to my mothers house where I would have been punished for everything that happened and anything I might have told to someone about the abuse going on in my mothers home.