All this talk of my past made me curious as to just what happened to all of the juvenile detention centers that I spent time in for one reason or another. The scandal of Berthelet in 1972 when all those young boys committed suicide. The scandal with the young girls being forced into prostitution by a social worker at Shawbridge. The workers at St Vallier’s detention Center striking and actually occupying a floor of the building, because of the overcrowding leading to stress and unsafe working conditions.
St. Vallier juvenile detention was my 1st stop as a child destined for the big house. I remember a kid having to kneel on the palm of his hands for talking after lights out. Refusal meant going to the hole. Do me a favor put your palms under your knees just to get the feeling. Imagine 15 to 30 minutes of this or more. I remember getting into an argument with the kid under me after lights out. We slept in dorms in bunk beds 2 high. I was hauled out of bed, from the top bunk, cuffed in the back of my head, put on an elevator and taken to another floor. It was the psycho ward they told me and in the morning I found out they were not joking. These kids were on so many meds they walked around drooling. After a couple of days they asked if I learned my lesson and was ready to go back into normal population, or did I wish to remain with the psycho? I said I was ready to go back and after lunch I was returned to normal population.
The hole was an interesting concept to ally the minor children. When sent to the hole you were stripped down to your under garments and put in a small room with a blanket and pillow. A guy sent there for sleeping with hs high school teacher and refusing to move back home had tried to escape by attacking a guard after lights out. He was beaten down and thrown into the hole. Days later he was still in there when I was getting released and was begging anyone to call his parents or tell somebody what was happening to him. I am glad to say that this building is now a nursing home by the looks of it and there ar no more children kneeling on their hands.
Berthelet detention center had to be the worst possible place for any child to have to spend time. In my earlier story about juvenile detention I outlined who I met there and what it was I learned. None of it was good for society or me. I arrived at Berthelt after dark, but the fences and razor wire came rushing back to me when I began to take pictures. I remember now just how alone and afraid I was at 16. I had no idea where I was, but I do know that the area was like being in the country when I was a boy. I understand now why my mother did not come on visiting day. I remember now just looking at the building again the cell with the bars and the light in the ceiling that stayed on 24 hours a day 7 days a week . The cell was six feet by six feet with a cot , a sink and a toilette. It was extremely hot and dry. It was so hot and dry that I caught bronchitis, but there would be no trip to the hospital and no doctor he only came to Berthelet twice a month. I would not see a doctor until I was released. I have bronchitis to this very day.
Everything here as well was in french and the majority of the population was french, but it was here that I learned the business end of crime. I was there for not going to school and they did not even have a class if you wanted to go. I felt betrayed by my mother and the court. Why could’ nt she just have okayed me quitting school? I was working. I was 16 the legal age to work with your mother’s permission. Was this place better than my girlfriend’s place and working? The worst thing about Berthelet was the empty time. I generally spent this time alone in my cell reading and plotting. As I said before I did attend arts and crafts. I was there to be intimidated and show me what would happen if I continued on this path. When I later graduated to Bordeaux I was already used to the clanging of the door, the light being on 24 / 7 so this part of going to jail was no longer a deterrent for me.
Use your wiles I was taught here. Lie to them and tell them what they want to hear and then do what you want and they will eventually give up on you. This is exactly what happened soon as I got out of this prison.They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few thousand. You will not find these photos of these or any other juvenile detention center on the internet. They are not listed in the phone book either. They do keep children somewhere in the court-house building, I know because my 13-year-old daughter was taken there when she ran away from home a few years ago to run the streets with her boyfriend and released to me in the morning . The government did not do away with these institutions of pain like they claimed years ago. They just took them below the radar, out of the public eye. Out of sight out of mind. How many of these detention centers are still in operation under the radar I wonder and by what regulations do they operate now? All I know for sure is that in my day kids were abused in them and died in them and they came out worst than when they went in. The day I took these pictures bought everything back to me and none of it was good.
Would you like your child to stay here for any reason now that I have shown you in advance what they are looking at. This is not a place for children. Do all that is in your power to see that your children do not end up here or somewhere like it. “Please!”