It sounds harmless: "pre-trial detention." But the reality is far different. In a squat block buildings in Laredo, Texas and in Portland, Oregon- and in similar places around the nation- children await trial or placement in concrete cells while the underlying issues that led to their behavior fester. Some are addicts who need treatment; others are kids battling mental illnesses. Many are angry and have been virtually abandoned by absentee or irresponsible parents. Some spend a few days, others months, but despite the efforts of a small corps of dedicated professionals, few actually receive treatment for the issues that brought them to Juvenile. Upwards of 600,000 children, some as young as 10, are incarcerated every year in the United States, 2/3 for non-violent offenses.
Young inmates march through the prison yard at Webb County Juvenile Dtention Center. This is the world of young felons, of kids gone astray, of children who cry for their mothers from behind bars. Some have skipped class too much, some have murdered in cold blood.