Bible Study Tonight: The Ten Commandments

Tonight, in the Youth Detention Center, we did a Bible study with the boys about the 10 commandments.  We let the youth write their own 10 commandments.  Everybody had to come to consensus on what was an agreeable commandment.  The consensus process was a little challenging, but the youth were great at the process!  I’m going to record as many as I can remember here!  Some were wise…and some were, well, interesting!

  1. Everybody gets what they need (and they work for it)
  2. Honor your elders (attitude)
  3. Obey God
  4. Help the poor
  5. Help the needy
  6. Be fruitful and multiply (but no prostitutes)
  7. Respect life (quite a discussion about what murder is and is not)
  8. Live the life you were given and do the best you can

As you can see, I can’t quite remember them all.  Maybe I’ll come up with them sometime in the middle of the night!

What would be the 10 commandments you would write?

Complementary Practices in Chaplaincy

From the Association of Professional Chaplains, “Complementary Spiritual Practices.”  Below are six practices I selected from the myriad offerings they have in their report.  I encourage you to read the breadth of practices they have and to consider where there are practices you can incorporate into your spiritual toolkit!

Practice:  Anointing with Oil
Description:  Religious Ritual Involving the Placement of Oil on Head or Body
Benefit: Spiritual Blessing, Connecting with the Divine & Community, Health Benefits from Increased Coping Resources

Practice:  Breath Prayer
Description:  Intercessory Prayer, Tonglen (Buddhist)
Benefit:   Increased Closeness to God, Positive Health Effects

Practice:  Confession
Description:  Multi-faith Practice
Benefit:   Health Benefits, Emotional Release, Reduction in Negative Feelings

Practice:  Forgiveness
Description:  Forgiving Others
Benefit:   Treatment of Various Disorders, Unblocking Spiritual Process, Positive Physical Effects of Lessened Stress

Practice:  Guided Imagery Visualization
Description:  Directed Imagination, Creation of Visuals, Images, and Events
Benefit:   Relaxation, Well-Being, Healing Effects

Practice:  Prayer or Mala Beads
Description:  Using String of Beads with Prayer or Meditation
Benefit:   Centeredness, Mindfulness, Interconnection with Others




LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile courts

Sunday, November 20th, is National Transgender Remembrance Day.

In my experience, when there is an LGBTQ youth in detention, there is conflict:  Gay youth are picked on, lesbians are suspicious, transgender youth cannot sleep with their identified gender.  It is hard for traditional detention centers, grounded in an age of ‘boy’ or ‘girl,’ to keep up with the rising tide of multiple gender orientation identities.  But it is something to attend to.

The equity project has an report that they published in 2009.  I am including their core recommendations below from page 137-138.

I would add to the core recommendations below, that attending to the spiritual needs of the LGBTQ youth is paramount.  Often, God has been used as a weapon.  Full healing and restoration cannot happen if they feel that God hates them.


The following core recommendations are designed to enhance the capacity of juvenile justice professionals to work effectively with LGBT youth. To help ensure the rights of LGBT youth and meet their rehabilitative needs in delinquency and status offense cases, the Equity Project recommends the following:

  1. Juvenile justice professionals (including judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff) must treat—and ensure others treat—all LGBT youth with fairness, dignity, and respect, including prohibiting any attempts to ridicule or change a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Juvenile justice professionals must promote the well-being of transgender youth by allowing them to express their gender identity through choice of clothing, name, hairstyle, and other means of expression and by ensuring that they have access to appropriate medical care if necessary.
  3. Juvenile justice professionals must receive training and resources regarding the unique societal, familial, and developmental challenges confronting LGBT youth and the relevance of these issues to court proceedings. Trainings must be designed to address the specific professional responsibilities of the audience (i.e., judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff).
  4. Juvenile justice professionals must develop individualized, developmentally appropriate responses to the behavior of each LGBT youth, tailored to address the specific circumstances of his or her life.
  5. All agencies and offices involved in the juvenile justice system (including courts, as well as prosecutor, defender, and probation offices, and detention facilities) must develop, adopt, and enforce policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination and mistreatment of youth on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity at all stages of the juvenile justice process, from initial arrest through case closure.
  6. Juvenile courts must commit to using the least restrictive alternative necessary when intervening in the lives of youth and their families and avoid unnecessary detention and incarceration.
  7. Juvenile courts must collaborate with other system partners and decision makers to develop and maintain a continuum of programs, services, and placements competent to serve LGBT youth, ranging from prevention programs to alternatives to detention to nonsecure and secure out-of-home placements and facilities. Programs should be available to address the conflict that some families face over the sexual orientation and gender identity of their LGBT child.
  8. Juvenile justice professionals and related stakeholders must ensure adequate development, oversight and monitoring of programs, services, and placements competent to serve LGBT youth.
  9. Juvenile courts must ensure the timely appointment of qualified and well-resourced counsel to provide zealous defense advocacy at all stages of delinquency proceedings.
  10. Juvenile justice professionals must take responsibility for protecting the civil rights, and ensuring the physical and emotional well-being and safety, of LGBT youth placed in out-of-home placements.
  11. Juvenile justice  professionals must adhere to all confidentiality and privacy protections afforded LGBT youth. These protections must prohibit disclosure of information about a youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity to third parties, including the youth’s parent or guardian, without first obtaining the youth’s consent.

Hidden Injustice:  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts

by:  Katayoon Majd, National Juvenile Defender Center, Jody Marksamer, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Carolyn Reyes, Legal Services for Children

© 2009 Legal Services for Children, National Juvenile Defender Center, and
National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Research: Transitioning Youth to the Public School Systems

Below is the summary section of results from a doctoral thesis, pages 86-88.  By Cheryl Graham Watkins.

“Youth incarcerated in detention centers will at some point transition back to their base schools and communities. For many, the detention education program is the last chance of having a formal education. As indicated in the research (Nelson, Rutherford, & Wolford, 1987; Wolford, 2000) many have had unsuccessful experiences in school and many complete their schooling in programs at the detention center. While others return to the base school and continue to experience unsuccessful attempts at transitioning. Thus, effective transition from the facility to the school and community is essential. The recommendations offered in this section are based on the findings of the study, current literature, and personal experiences. The recommendations are not in any order but are included for their relative importance for promoting successful transition of youth from the detention setting to educational mainstream and the community.”

  1. Employ and fund qualified transition personnel.
  2. A transition plan must be developed for all youth, and transition should begin at the point of entry.
  3. In order to address the academic needs of all youth, programs geared toward all academic levels, especially for youth coming into detention having been involved in advanced studies programs designed to obtain advanced studies diploma is essential.
  4. Policy makers may want to consider more closely the need to include in the education program vocational skills training, with an emphasis on extensive career exploration, and vocational aptitude testing.
  5. Both GED and High School Graduate are considered meaningful end products.
  6. In addition, to the above recommendations, given the era of accountability there should be much better record keeping and understanding of what happens to youth following release from detention facilities.

What do incarcerated kids want?

from the Journal of Extension
August 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 4

What Incarcerated Youth Say Would Help Them Succeed
by Eric Killian

Incarcerated Youths’ Rating of Inside-Facility Programming

Very Helpful
Kind of Helpful
Not Helpful
Personal time with staff inside the facility





Group counseling inside facility





Classroom instruction inside facility





Computer training inside facility





Job training inside facility





Recreational activities inside facility





Individual counseling inside facility





Art and crafts inside facility





Books reading materials inside facility





Counseling with parents inside facility





The Kid’s Closet Needs You!

Kid's Closet
Kid's Closet

The King County Youth Detention Center has a ‘Kid’s Closet’ to help those youth that are leaving the center and going on to homes that cannot supply them with basic needs.

From their website:

“Kids Closet is a clothing bank for youth and families who are involved with the juvenile justice system.  Kids Closet accepts donations of new and slightly used clothing, shoes, sports equipment, toiletries, and other essential items and makes them available at no cost to Juvenile Court clients and their families.

If you are interested in making a donation, please call (206) 205-9621 or email  Items can be donated Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm.  Special arrangements also can be made if you need pick-up service.  Donations are tax deductible.  Please make sure used items have been laundered or cleaned before drop-off, as Kids Closet has limited facilities.  We appreciate your generosity and support!

You can find them here: