Beyond Scared Straight -Juvenile Justice Reform: Teen once housed in Missouri adult jail recalls fears, attacks before his acquittal – POLL

Via Scoop.itJuvenile Justice

On his 14th birthday, Owen Welty received an unexpected gift: a half-pint carton of milk and chocolate sheet cake for 40 — enough to share with all his fellow inmates and the guards at a Missouri jail.
Already confined eight months while awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges, Owen savored his drink and his slice. On the inside, mundane items become rare luxuries, metal and glass containers can be weaponized, and jailhouse noise can keep sleep at bay, leaving plenty of time for contemplation.
“I’d sit down and just start thinking,” Owen recalls.
He fixated on being charged in the death of his 64-year old neighbor, and the possibility of 30 years in prison. Cravings for Big Macs and clean clothes. Fears about fighting off older inmates who targeted him for attacks. Boredom from being kept in isolation for weeks at a time. Costly legal efforts that burdened his family.
Owen was a baby-faced 13-year-old when he entered Missouri’s justice system in November 2006, spending all but one of the next 27 months moving among three adult jails. He was acquitted and released in February 2009.
It’s difficult to put Owen’s case in context among those of other juveniles held in adult jails — 7,500 at any given time, the U.S. Justice Department says. No national data track the amount of time they spend in jail, the conditions they experience or their case outcomes.
Rural jails, like two in which Owen was held, may not have the same level of resources of those found in more populous areas, said Ned Loughran, executive director of Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, whose members come from all 50 states.

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