I’ve been trying to imagine making a bad choice with ‘friends’ and spending the next 9 months in jail; at the age of 15. No doubt I have made bad choices, I have given in to peer pressure, and I have raised teen girls. So, I’m trying to relate to what these young ladies might be thinking and feeling.
I have been mentoring teen girls under age 18 who are being tried as adults in the Baltimore County legal system. There is no juvenile tier for girls in the Baltimore County Detention Center and teens are not allowed to be out with adult detainees, so these young ladies are held on the adult women’s mental health tier. They are able to come out of their cell approximately two hours per day.
After about 8 months of mentoring, here are some insights gained:
- Teen angst is not well handled in solitary confinement.
- Friendships through jail cell doors with mentally ill women are not the types of nurture and development society wants for these young ladies.
- Hope is extra challenging to find and discuss in these conditions.
- So far, the girls I’ve met have not been introduced to Jesus at all or to a very small extent.
- These ladies have been living a life with many challenges: socioeconomic, struggling or behind in their education, a high rate of incarceration among friend, low IQ, and lack of family support.
It has been rewarding, frustrating, inspiring, discouraging, fun, frightening, educational, enlightening, humbling, and so much more for me. I pray the support, love, time to talk about dreams and fears, and steady friendship have been stepping stones to a brighter future for these girls.