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Frankenstein: Vol.11 pg1

SAFER SCHOOLS NEWS-VOL. 11

Vol. 11: Frankenstein


Volume 11 – Page 1


He was a big kid. Well over six feet tall. At seventeen he looked every inch a man. He had the looks of a movie star; every thing was square. His face, his jaw, his shoulders were as square as anyone’s I have ever known. When he smiled, you were forced to smile back. But he smiled very little. When he was just a youngster, there was a bad car wreck. He was left with a jagged scar completely across his forehead. The scar and his squared features had earned him the nickname, Frankenstein. Secretly, he enjoyed it because it kept the others at bay. He accentuated the name by developing a scowl that made him look the part.

As I entered the cellblock that the State called a cottage, his eyes met mine. I sent him a smile that was not returned. I continued to smile while waiting for the Unit Manager to speak to me. My mind went back over the events of the past few weeks. Frankenstein, that is, Jeff called me late one night. His voice trembled as he asked for my help. He had stolen a van and was just joy riding when he got it stuck down a remote country road. He had walked out to farmhouse and called me. I never asked any of them why. That is such a useless question when dealing with adolescent offenders. First, I offered him my help. I would go get him. Then I reminded him of the rules. If I gave him a ride there could be only one destination. He said, ” The sheriff’s office?”

“Yes.”

“Come get me. Please.”

The kids that I worked with knew that they could trust me. They could call on me day or night, and I would help them. I never lied to them nor tricked them. But they also knew that, “Take responsibility for your own actions,” was the standard.

Jeff, climbed into my freshly cleaned car with his muddy boots and jeans. After a mile or so, he asked, “What’s going to happen?”

I explained that the sheriff would probably book him in as a juvenile. They would then call the Juvenile Officer to take statements and his parents to take him home. Which is just what happened. He seemed far more concerned about his parents than the deputies or the Juvenile Officer. A few days later he stood stoically and stared at the Judge as he confessed about stealing the van. The judge almost gave him probation because he had turned himself in, but then decided that 30 days in the “Training School,” that’s a code word for kiddy prison, would do him good. Now there I was to visit him.

“I need to see Jeff” I told the Unit Manager.

“Oh, yeah. Frankenstein!” Then he shouted Jeff’s last name over the noise of the “cottage.” Jeff responded with his trade mark scowl and started pushing other kids out of his way as he walked toward us. Getting across the room was a challenge. These “cottages” had been built many years ago to house 16 kids, mostly run-aways. Now they housed 35-40 kids and most of them had committed real crimes. The day room should have been a place for them to relax and socialize. It had evolved into a gauntlet to be run.

Frankenstein scowled and growled and other kids got out of his way. He had gotten his bluff in on them so he would survive. Most try to spend their time without being noticed by staff or peers. Invisibility was a comfort.

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