Just a Baby

Just a Baby
Just a Baby

At the one end of my life yesterday was a fabulous opportunity fulfilled! I was given a grant to fund a part-time position of someone who will walk with at-risk youth from a particular neighborhood. This is an immense relief to me. Another person will make my life much easier! Yay! Love wins!

At the other end of the spectrum, one of the youth I work with was raped yesterday. Boo! Love lost. And in general, I am so very angry over the situation this young person is in that I do not really know what to do. What I can do is share the story.

Bev (not her real name) was released from juvenile detention last Tuesday, May 21. She is 18 so is “aging out” of juvenile. She was released to temporary housing (no supportive family to return to). Her general pattern of crime are anger crimes because of her previous life, anyway! Including sexual assault by her parental unit. So, released to youth crisis housing, she is grateful. But there are these rules. Be out of the house from 9-5 M, W, F. Well, that is perfect if you aren’t 18 with control issues, physical issues, mental issues, psychological issues, and freedom for the first time in almost 2 years. The day after she released, she called me.

Terri, I’m out!


I haven’t eaten today.

*eyebrow raises–manipulation at work or really?* What?

I only have $5 and the clothes I’m wearing. Can I come to the Kid’s Closet and gets some clothes?

OK. This sounds truthy. Why would I doubt? She has a history of manipulation so I’m not a completely lame observer of the behavior of incarcerated kids. Of course! She can come and get some clothing out of the donated clothes we have. I decided I had enough budget (barely) to take her grocery shopping and out to dinner. I could guarantee at least a couple days of meals while she gets her stuff together with DSHS. So we did that–dinner and grocery shopping.

Then, Thursday, I picked her up to come work with me and do some volunteer work for me–organizing the Kid’s Closet which always needs work! She told me about the rule where she has to be out of the house from 9-5. And Wednesday, when she was “out of the house,” she was walking around downtown and hit on by every weirdo in the area. Huh. That’s a good idea. Not.

We worked together and I took her home once again. This is Thursday. Then I got a phone call Thursday evening. She got her EBT card from DSHS and wanted to let me know she will be all right.

Saturday, she was arrested for theft. Fingered by another young woman who bounces in and out of juvenile detention. I can only say that my confidence wavered. Here was a young woman, with $5 to her name, theft? Not out of the question! And we’re talking adult jail now, no juvie. How did I find out? She called me. It went something like this…

This is an automated program from … you have a call from an inmate. Press zero to proceed.


Blah, blah, blah…courtesy…one minute…if you want to talk longer you have to deposit money…

*I’m not putting no stinking money on account with this automated, rip-off phone company.*

…blah, blah, at the tone press 1 to be connected and accept the call, blah, blah…

*getting fingers ready to press 1 at the tone*

…blah, blah, BEEP

*finger descending towards the 1*

you have declined the call, thank you very much.


What??? You have got to be kidding me. Seriously, I had no time to hit the 1. Then I looked my girl up on the public jail website under newly booked, and there she was. I called the jail back to figure out how phones and visiting worked and was on hold for 45 minutes and then their operator hours were over. Click.

Good. Grief.

I call a friend who knows how the jails work and she tells me the visiting hours. Sunday 10-12:30, Wednesday 5:30-7:30. OK. Fine. I’m preaching Sunday morning, so no visitation then. It will have to be Wednesday. And I still haven’t spoken with her.

Sunday night. I receive another phone call. I am so ready to hit the ‘1’ this time!!



I’m here!

I didn’t do it, Terri, I swear.

OK. We only have one minute to talk according to the recording. I will be there Wednesday to see you in person. We will do what we need to do. Have you contacted your house?


I’ll try and call them.

…quick quick talking…


Argh!!! I still have doubts, but she is near tears, and adamant in her conviction she didn’t do it. Oh well. Even if she did commit theft, I am still thinking the system is 90% responsible for creating this situation.

Then, Monday at 2:30 or so, I got a phone call–she is out. Fully released. No charges brought. The girl who “fingered” her did it.

Aaah, the great lie as a cover-up, misdirection! Yay!

We made plans for me to see her Thursday morning. But I forgot. There are still more days of the week and apparently there is no rest for the weary.

Monday she gets out of prison in the afternoon. Her job is to get from one area of the city to a completely separate area, safely. She meets some friends and starts moving in the general direction with a distraction to Folk Life. She then misses her check-in/curfew time at the house she is staying at. She decides to find a place to sleep on the streets since she can’t get into the house. She finds a trailer in the back of a run down place and takes her sleeping pill, lays down, and is knocked out. She had, of course, had some alcohol and weed earlier in the day that I am sure contributed to her lack of consciousness–in addition to a few very stressful days.

She awoke to being raped.

She makes it home to the house in the morning, tells a friend, her friend calls the police, and she ends up at the hospital doing the whole rape reporting thing by 7:30 Tuesday night. Oh. My. God. And you know what? Contrary to all assumptions, this young woman was a virgin and had committed to staying so until she got married. Sheesh.

I was traveling to a meeting in the general area when she called me. I went and stayed with her the entire time. Now I know the procedure. We would describe it as something like this…20 minutes of work and conversation…an hour of nothing…20 minutes…hour of nothing…20 minutes…hour of nothing. So frustrating!

The doctor comes in and tells us what is going to happen.

Wait, wait, wait.

Nurse comes in and tells us what is going to happen.

Wait, wait, wait.

Sr. doctor comes in and tells us what is going to happen.

Wait, wait, wait.

Finally, Sr. doctor and other doctor do physical exam. And they tell us what else is going to happen. A social worker and nurse will be coming to visit to take statement and to do rape kit.

Wait, wait, wait.

Wait, wait, wait.

Wait, wait, wait.

Social worker comes in and tells us what is going to happen.

Wait, wait, wait.

Social worker comes in to do her thing. We are so fed up at this point.

Please, how long before she can go home? She has medications to take and she is beyond tired.

I need to do this, get the consent signed, and THEN CALL THE RAPE KIT NURSE FROM HER HOME

*everybody’s head exploded a little bit–the nurse hasn’t been called yet? oh. my. god.*

Can she sign the consent now so we can get the nurse on the way?

No, let me just go through these questions.


Blah, blah, blah.

*murderous thoughts are going through my head*

Finally, the consent is signed. They are going to call the nurse from her home. Please let her live close by!!

Social worker comes back in to tell us what is going on. But! There is a nurse on premise who can do the rape kit rather than waiting. It will be about 15 minutes.

…an hour passes…

Amen, hallelujah, the nurse is here! She was pretty awesome. Efficient and kind. She does her thing and asks if my girl needs some anti-biotics to prevent STI and a Plan B pill. She says, “yes! all of that.”

Then the nurse goes to find doctors to fill prescriptions.

wait, wait, wait

Finally! We have everything and can leave. I take her home along with the couple friends that have arrived as moral support. Elapsed time: 7:15 p.m. to 1:57 a.m.

Oh, yeah. Love definitely lost. BUT. Love won, too. In her friends being there, in my being there, in providing a steadying presence, in finally getting pissed off enough to tell the social worker to get to it (smile!), in my loved ones offering their texting, supportive words strengthening me. Yeah, love was walking with us, crying, but providing strength.

And now, there has to be next steps in this long rant. I don’t really know what that will be, but it will be something! My girl says she is ready to go to the state politicians and tell her story. That will be a start.

Wow. It really was a long, long day yesterday. And you know what? No matter how tough these kids I work with are, they are really just babies.

© 2013, post and photograph, Terri Stewart, all rights reserved

Unfinished Work

Today, two youth I have been coaching left the detention facility. As I sat with one of them waiting on his family, I felt that there was work unfinished.

I chatted with the youth who was leaving and the two other young men at the table. The two young men who were there will be joining me in my mission team / MAPping madness. But I was focused on the youth who was leaving.

We traded information and he left with his family.

I feel like there is such a lot of unfinished work!

Driving away, I realized–Of course! I just added two youth…the work is unfinished.