Captive Audience

Steel doors clang and rattle out dueling D.C.go-go and Baltimore club beats as this juvenile correctional facility, poetically named Noyes, braces for another classroom shift. This Montgomery county institutions juxtaposition between two distinctly different yet devastated cities isn’t the only odd combination. The 15 year old girls with 6 year old eyes and 30 year olds problems stare out of the narrow windows as the guys shuffle by in orange flip flops and fresh White T’s. The normal teenage sexual tension is magnified 10 times amongst juveniles locked up inches from each other but completely out of reach.

You’re there for less than 2 minutes before you realize Shackled Juvenileswhich inmates are really out of place. Baby faced yet solemn, they should be twittering and scoping the malls. Instead they find themselves here, working really hard to keep a gangsta grill with no mustache. Scanning the room becomes even more depressing when you realize that even the loud and obnoxious detainees are just as out of place. Their boisterousness gives them a façade but it takes only a moment to break it down, when the right lyric, or poignant question catches them off guard.

This is one of many early crossroads, a criminal finishing school, or a “come to Jesus moment”. The variables are vast, the outcomes are few, and a cloud of adolescent stagnation hovers over the classroom after being pushed out of the lungs of these kids. As I step into the game room with computers and PS2’s I get blank stares, rolled eyes and one quiet warning that I better be good, “you’re cutting into game time”. Some sat attentive at a make shift desk that moonlights as an air hockey table. Others where strewn about couches and plastic chairs like a jacket tossed less than two steps in the door after a days work…

to be continued

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