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caption: Three teens get ready to record an interview in the library at the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center during a RadioActive podcasting workshop on April 15, 2021.
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Three teens get ready to record an interview in the library at the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center during a RadioActive podcasting workshop on April 15, 2021.
Credit: Courtesy of Megan Sobchuk

'They can never lock your mind up.' Three stories from juvenile jail

Seven youth joined RadioActive for a two-day virtual podcasting workshop at the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle's Squire Park neighborhood. The teens produced three audio stories about their experiences with incarceration, using pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

'More than my name.'

Milli, Shadow and Glow discuss observing Ramadan in jail, what they do for joy, and what makes them proud.

"I did a lot of bad shit, but I did that for my family," Shadow says. "I was able to put a roof over their heads and put meals on their plates. I just took the wrong steps to do it."

"I feel the same thing as Shadow," Glow says. "The reason why I did this, you know, it's for my family. Because we ain't have food in the refrigerator. And we ain't have nothing else."

[TRANSCRIPT]

AUDIO: 'More than my name.'

Milli, Shadow and Glow discuss observing Ramadan in jail, what they do for joy, and what makes them proud.

On the outside, we have to be much older than we are. But in here, we don't have to worry about where our next meal is gonna come from. We don't have to worry about the enemies looking for us. We get food, we get clothes, we get shelter. SHADOW | 'MORE THAN MY NAME.'
Credit: COURTESY OF MEGAN SOBCHUK

'Can't nobody make you change. You got to change yourself.'

Milli, Tilley and Trilly say job training, mentorship and access to youth programs— not incarceration— is what King County youth need to thrive.

"I feel like instead of incarceration, it should be rehabilitation," says Milli. "Like teaching kids trades, teaching them how to do different things, so they don't fall back into the same routine that they was living. Because a lot of people say, 'Oh, get out and do this or do that.' But how are you going to get out and do that if you don't got no one that taught you how?"

[TRANSCRIPT]

AUDIO: 'Can't nobody make you change. You got to change yourself.'

Milli, Tilley and Trilly say job training, mentorship and access to youth programs— not incarceration— is what King County youth need to thrive.

They treat us pretty good, but it's still jail. Like, we still don't get to leave. That's the worst part. Some people just be trying to go home to their families, bro. Can't even do it. J-W0W | 'YOUR BODY IS IN JAIL BUT YOUR MIND IS NOT.'
Credit: Courtesy of Megan Sobchuk

'Your body is in jail but your mind is not.'

From brushing their teeth to "smacking some snacks," J-Wow, T-Dog and EJ take listeners through a day in juvenile detention.

"Your mind can wander beyond these walls, says T-Dog. "You can have dreams."

"Yeah," says J-Wow. "They can lock you up physically, but they can never lock your mind up."

[TRANSCRIPT]

AUDIO: 'Your body is in jail but your mind is not.'

J-Wow, T-Dog and EJ take listeners through a day in juvenile detention. Note: The audio in this story has some mildly distracting background noise.

As a community, we need to embrace [formerly incarcerated] people with open arms. Help them realize that there's still opportunities for them in the community. That people care about them. That they're not outcasts. MILLI | 'CAN'T NOBODY MAKE YOU CHANGE. YOU GOT TO CHANGE YOURSELF.'
Credit: Courtesy of Megan Sobchuk

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These stories were created in a RadioActive community workshop with support from Ardo Hersi, Caullen Hudson, David Moran, Kelsey Kupferer, Lila Shroff and Simone St. Pierre Nelson.

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Support for KUOW's RadioActive comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center.

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