BEYOND BARS: Children in Prison is Torturous

By Tyrone Reyes
Jackson, MI

Children in adult prisons is unconstitutional,. It amazes me that the judicial system believes it’s morally okay to put vulnerable children in adult prisons to be preyed upon. I came to prison when I was just 16 years old. I’ll be 38 this year. Prison is nothing more than a torture chamber for our young kids. Nightmares that a normal kid may have about the Boogie Man in the comfort of their parents’ home is nothing compared to the living nightmares children have to endure on a daily basis in prison.
I was truly blessed to survive physically and mentally. I had a strong support system that helped me grow into the man that I am today. Most children coming to prison are not as fortunate. Plus, they don’t have the necessary skills needed to survive. No matter what state you’re living in, children are getting tortured by prisoners and correctional officers alike. Parents and family are unable to help in these dire moments. Going to the officials will most likely become a death sentence or close to it. Number one rule: No telling.

My first taste of reality came within my first two weeks in prison. I was scared out of my mind. I witnessed a young kid my age getting raped and I couldn’t do anything about it. Luckily for me, they didn’t see me, because I silently ran away before they could. My heart went out to him, but there was nothing I could do. It pained me to see him walking around defeated because the unthinkable happened to him. This is a kid’s worst nightmare.

Every night, I would dwell on this. It dawned on me that this could have easily been my fate. What could I have done to prevent this from happening to me? It’s easy to say “I wouldn’t have let it happen.” That’s the tough guy in me. In reality, I was only 5’5”, weighing only 133 lbs. I was no match against the two guys that had muscles all over. They were at least 5’10” or taller. Both of them weighed over 200 lbs.

I prayed to God thanking him for sparing me and prayed that he continue to watch over me. I told myself, “Something has to be done about this.” Over the years, I became a huge advocate trying to abolish sending children to prison with adults. Honestly speaking, the system is catering to pedophiles by giving them children on a silver platter. Is this really justice and in the best interest of the public?
Yes, our children do time for committing a crime, but to treat them worse than adults by sending them to get tortured is unconstitutional. Progress is slowly being made. According to the Supreme Court, children can no longer be given mandatory life without the possibility of parole. In the name of humanity, we need to stop sending our children to prison with these hardcore adult criminals.
We need to stop spending $35,000 on locking up children and spend that money on their education and preventing them from getting in trouble. They need guidance and treatment in order to assure that they can cope through seeing drugs and violence on a daily basis. Be proactive in our children’s lives. When they see adults care, they’ll start caring again.

Every state needs to take a stance, protect our children’s dignity by not sending them to get assaulted or raped. ■