“Juveniles are not fit to be in an unsafe environment like this.”- J.T.’s story

Hi my name is J.T. I am 18 years of age. I was born on May 7, 1998. I like to rap, play basketball, and make people laugh. I have one son. I have one sister, three brothers, and one niece. I grew up in a rough community in Cincinnati, Ohio called Walnut Hills. I attended Fredrick Douglass Elementary, which is located in Walnut Hills. I am currently doing 14 year for involuntary manslaughter, which I didn’t do. I was accused of being there.

As I was growing up, my second oldest brother was incarcerated when I was 14 years old. It affected me because I looked up to him. He was my role model. He always wanted me to do right, but he ended up making a mistake and it cost him six years of his life in prison. Then after he was incarcerated, I started skipping school, catching truancy charges, which is a misdemeanor, a crime less than a felony. That is when I first got introduced to the juvenile system. When I turned 16 years old, I was hanging around the wrong group of individuals.

On September 2, 2014, the involuntary manslaughter was committed. I was in the juvenile detention center 2 days later. As I was going to court, my attorneys told me it was a good possibility of me getting out if I got bound over. Then I was bound over to the adult system. It was a very scary experience because I had never been incarcerated. So as I was bound over, I thought I was going to get out because I was only 16 years old and I felt as if the judge was going to have some type of sympathy for me. They told me if I don’t take 14 year I’m going to get 18 to life in prison. So, I took 14 years in prison.

It affected me in a negative way because they took me away from my family, and my son. Now my son doesn’t have a father figure in his life to teach him right from wrong. My family can only visit me once a month for 1 hour. I lost my chances to turn my life around because a have a first-degree felony on my record. Plus, the adult programs are a lot different from the juvenile system.

The juvenile system has a better high school option for juveniles. They have more programs to offer. The adult system doesn’t have too many programs to offer, and it takes a very long time to get into school. If you don’t have enough credits, they are going to force you to get a G.E.D.

My hope is to file after my mandatory, go to the parole board, and go home to my family. My goal is to get my high school diploma, get out, go to college, and live a long successful life.

I would change Ohio’s laws about binding over youth to the adult system by keeping the youth in the youth detention services until they are grown and then release them. I would like for CLC, and other people out there who are interested, to help stop juveniles from being bound over to know that the adult system is a very unsafe place for juveniles.

Since I have been in prison I have seen people get stabbed and a lot more thing, plus the C.O.s attack you and spray you with mace if you even try to do right. I think prison and the adult system is a place for adults only and not juveniles because juveniles are not fit to be in an unsafe environment like this. If there is anyone out there to help prevent juveniles from being bound over, please do so. Please and thank you.