My name is G.C. I grew up on the West side of Cleveland, Ohio where there is a lot of violence and criminal gang activity. My mother and father were not in my household growing up. I was raised by my grandparents. In 2007, when I was 9 years old, my grandfather passed away. After that I had no one to discipline me. My grandmother was getting old and in poor health. I started doing whatever I wanted to do. I would always skip school, and I was I the streets all day and night. When I was 11 years old, I spent a month in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. From there, I went to a juvenile rehabilitation center in Parmadale. I spent 90 days there and was released.
I stayed out of the system for 6 years but then I got caught up in another case. At 17 years of age, I was indicted for allegedly committing 18 felonies. My first day in the juvenile center in Cuyahoga County I was lost in my thoughts thinking about my consequences for my crimes. I never even knew what a bind over was. Then the day came where I saw my court date and it read “Mandatory bind over.” The staff explained to me what it meant. I couldn’t believe that they would charge me as an adult when I was only 17 years of age.
The only thing I could think to do was to keep a good behavior, and do my school work so it would look good in court. After 7 months in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, I achieved my high school diploma. I was hoping that when the time came to get sentenced I would get out without going to prison or possibly only do a year or so. I focused on my future and stayed out of trouble. I planned to get out and apply for college. I ended up getting sentenced to 7 years in prison. I was devastated. I was only 17 years old.
I am currently at the Correctional Reception Center located in Orient, Ohio. It is a big difference than being in the juvenile system. There are many programs here. There are G.E.D. and high school diploma classes, there are trades such as welding, HVAC, plumbing, painting, electricity, construction, and power plant. You can also join an apprenticeship program to become a janitor, garbage man, or a cook/baker. There are many more programs that you can join to change your life around.
Ever since I was bound over, I have been thinking about my future. Being a felon makes you look bad when it comes to getting a job or some careers. I can’t join the military because of it. I hope to get out and live a better life than the one that I was living before. I have hopes of getting into college and having a good job. My goal is to get my HVAC (Heating ventilation and cooling) certification while I’m incarcerated so that I can do that when I’m released.
If I could change Ohio’s laws of binding youth over to the adult criminal justice system and doing time in prison I would. I would abolish the law completely. They are not adults; they should not be treated as one. I think it is cruel and unusual punishment.
Since I can’t change the laws of Ohio, I hope to encourage youths from committing violent offense. I don’t want to see any child be in the position I am in. My birthday will be in a few days and I will be 19 years old. I have been incarcerated for almost 2 years, and I still have 5 years left to do. I do not know if anyone will read this, but if you are, and you’re a minor who has been in an out of the system, I ask that you change your ways, find help, find someone to talk to so they can show you the right path to go down. Nothing is worth being locked away behind these gates, away from your family, freedom, and future. If I could go back and change my ways I would, but I can’t, so I hope I can help someone else not follow in my footsteps.