Serving Time . . . Playing Nintendo - FamilyEducation

Serving Time . . . Playing Nintendo

April 05,2010
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

Kramer was being held at the Department of Youth Services (DYS) juvenile detention center for possession of a firearm and intent to distribute narcotics. I was visiting him. Kramer went to a friend's hearing at the courthouse. He forgot about the metal detector and being padded and frisked before entering the courthouse. He had a gun on his waist and crack in his pocket. He walked across the street to a gas station and stood beside a vending machine. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him. Kramer knelt down and slid the gun and crack under the vending machine. The attendant saw him and was suspicious. After Kramer walked to the courthouse, the attendant knelt down like Kramer had and felt with his hand under the vending machine. He called the police, led them to the gun, and shared the surveillance tape that identified Kramer. As Kramer left the court house, he was arrested; and was being held on $100,000 bail. I waited in a multipurpose room. In the room were weights, a book shelf with not many books, a 32' television sitting on a stand with a Play Station 2, and below it, an X-Box A resident chart with levels was written on a chalk board. The highest level was one. I was puzzled. Kramer walked into the room with a blue sweat suit, white socks, and flip flops. "Hi Talia," he said. Immediately I asked, "What are the levels for?" He explained. "You get privileges depending on what level you're on. Level E is for entry. Everyone comes in on level E and can move up to level 3 if you behave and don't get into any fights. When you are on level 2 you can order out on Fridays." "Excuse me, order out?" "Yeah, you can order a pizza or Chinese food." He continued. "Level 1 is the best. This is the Level 1 room. When you are on Level 1 you can order out on Tuesdays and Fridays. And you get an extra phone call." "Is that how you heard that Banker was shot?" "Yeah," he said smiling. Confused, I asked, "They don't monitor who you are talking too?" "Naw, they don't." "And oh," he said as if he forgot to mention, "You can play video games and stuff too." Now I understood why the boys' weren't afraid of being locked up. The juvenile detention center was a joke. Some of the boys had it better in DYS than they did at home – a bed to themselves, three hot meals, a place to shower, and TV and video games. I wondered where the penalty was. What was the juvenile detention center's intervention strategy? Is playing a PS2 video game going to make a young person not want to re-offend? "Well how are you doing in here Kramer," I asked. "I'm good T. Dis ain't nothing."