A poem from inside juvenile hall's mental health crisis

On the cover tomorrow, SN&R’s eight-month investigation into the juvenile justice system’s mental health crisis, and how local juvenile halls have transformed into accidental psychiatric wards.

Before reading the story, check out this poem from one of the individuals we profile, written as a teenager during one of her 10 juvenile hall detentions.


For some of us this is all we’ve ever known
this is the one place we could call home
we get released but we always come back
with a new charge like robbery or selling crack

you do your time but now it’s time to leave
but the staff and homies know you
won’t be gone longer than two weeks

the first day your out your back on the streets
doing the same old things
tryna make dough because you gotta eat

runaway from your problems, runaway from home
back to Kiefer Blvd. you will go

so here you are back again promising the judge it won’t happen again
the judge says it’s getting old so CYA or Colorado you will go
crying tears all the way their
wishing you never acted up all those years

you blame god for your life being this way
askin where he’s been,
and the truth is he’s been here all along
you just decided not to hear

what he had to say
but turn to god for he is the only way

-Written by Ashley Drake at the age of 15, while detained at the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility on Kiefer Boulevard

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