Friday, October 27, 2006

Kids: The Good, Bad and Ugly?

Some seem surprised that I, Mr. Nice Guy, wouldn't exhibit that touchy- feely He's just a child... attitude that so many others have after this recent shooting. Very simply, I'm not going to rush to judgement in this or any other case. That said, I stand by by what I said:

Having worked at Humboldt County Juvenile Hall for around three and a half years quite some time ago, I can think of at least a few kids I would have loved to never have to see again in my life. That said, I enjoyed interacting with most of the kids I'd met and worked with. Some were absolute pleasures.

Some of the most pleasant to deal with were supposedly real hell raisers on The Outs, as kids in the hall would say. That's why I'm curious about this Burgess kid, not that Hall behavior is any kind of answer to a kids inner personality in and of itself.

******
When I first perused making a [most likely] controversial post, three kids I'd dealt with came to mind immediately. I would have been greatly relieved to have heard I'd never have to deal with them again. If any of them would have been in Burgess' place, I would have been relieved. It would have made my job a hell of a lot easier.

Surprisingly, one, a kid we'll call "Jim" was one of my favorites when he first showed up at The Hall.


Jim was around 15 and came from Southern Humboldt. When I first met him he was pleasant to deal with and had a good sense of humor. Seems to me he wasn't with us too long the first time.

I think it was around six months later he returned and had changed. Now he wanted to be Mr. Bad Ass, just like dad- A convicted murderer. He'd developed a hostile attitude that eventually resulted in numerous assaults on staff. Although he never struck me personally, I was involved in restraining him one time where he was puching my partner repeatedly in the face. And so went his stay at The Hall for the seeming eternity he was there.

One day he was standing at the Control Room door and I had to ask him, "Jim, what happened with you? You used to be one of my favorite kids and now you seem to go out of your way to be the bad guy.". He just shrugged. I think he knew he wanted to be just like dad.

I forget what his disposition was, but I was glad to never see him again. Last time I heard of him was reading the arrest reports some years ago in the Times- Standard and he'd been arrested for "Making Terrorist Threats", or some such. Not sure what that involves as I don't recall hearing of that crime when I went through the Redwoods Police Academy. Regardless, didn't surprise me. Good riddance, asshole.

"David" was another one. He was in The Hall starting with day one- My first day starting as a volunteer. Seemed ok to me at the time but he was a major problem child in The Hall and I didn't know him yet.

Didn't take long for me to realize what a pain he was: Fifteen years old and totally irrational, at least a lot of the time. You could have problems with him develop out of nowhere. Even Mental Health couldn't neutralize him with all their psychriatic medications. A real pain.

He went to a few group homes and then, for the life of me, I don't remember seeing him again. Maybe he finally fit in somewhere. In any case, good riddance, David. Funny thing is, of all the kids names I've seen show up in the paper now and again, his name isn't one of them. Maybe he's one of those that are a real problem in The Hall but not so bad on The Outs? I don't know. At least he's out of my life.

Then there was "Arthur". He actually had his more lucid moments, but he'd always revert to his jerk self. Mostly just a predator, as he would be the first to admit. He'd always tell us, "I'm a predator. I seek out weaknesses in people and try to exploit them...". And he did, or at least tried with me. I didn't like that guy.

Seems to me he ended up finally making it to a group home. He didn't have much time left as I believe he was around 17 when I last saw him.

Last I heard of Arthur he got 8 years, I believe, in prison for his participation in a shoot out in Hoopa that left his "friend" dead, his friend being another Juvenile Hall alumni. I imagine he might still be in prison now, for one thing or another. Let's hope so. Good riddance, Arthur.

If I would of gotten word that any of the above were on the outs and got killed by whomever, it certainly wouldn't have bothered me.
*********
I referred earlier on to Juvenile Hall Alumni status of possibly being a good indicator of a short life span. Here's a list of kids off the top of my head that I knew that died early, often violently. I was sorry, although not surprised, to hear of their deaths, at least in most cases:

"Nick"- Shot dead in the Sacramento area not long after he turned 18. He was a violent person on The Outs, but a pretty decent guy to deal with in The Hall with a good sense of humor. I liked him. I was told that, as a member of a gang, he agreed to kill someone. When he and his accomplice backed out, they were both shot and stuffed in the trunk of a car.

"Stacy"- I think she just turned 18(?) when she was shot dead in Arizona. She could be a pain sometimes, but I had the ability to make her laugh and distract her thus liked her.

"Felicity"- Committed suicide. Didn't know her too well but she was well liked by nearly all the staff, at least so far as we knew her. She was a pretty quiet girl.

"Mike"- Accident or suicide? Unkown. Playing around with a handgun with friends and ended up with a bullet in his head. Quiet guy but peaceful enough. Didn't know him well at all.

"Jesse"- Suicide. After an initial physical confrontation with him when he first came the The Hall, he was well behaved and quiet. Don't know the details of the suicide.

"Manny"- Shot dead in Hoopa during some sort of altercation.

"Michelle"- Killed on Highway 299 when she apparently drove her car off the road and hit a tree. Broke my heart. She was my indian princess. Always gave me a hug when she'd return to The Hall.

"David"- Suicide. Blew himself away with a shotgun. That bummed me as I used to talk to David a lot. He'd often catch me going by his room and ask for "a little one on one...". He just wanted to talk. Nice guy with a good sense of humor but a lot of early death from one reason or another in his family.

There's more I'm forgetting right now. Of course, I could also list all the ones I know of that ended up in prison. One of those being one I was astonished to hear being involved in some pretty hefty crimes. Last I heard, he was facing Life on a Three Strikes Your Out deal. Hard to believe knowing him from The Hall. He was a very pleasant little fifteen year old kid.

And I still see names pop up in the arrest reports I recognize. Saw on guy in the paper a few days ago for one of those "injury of a co- habitant..", deals. Hard to believe that one, too. He was a pretty peaceful hippy type guy when he was in The Hall.

Last but not least are the ones that move on and lead normal lives. I can only think of maybe a couple I personally know that went that route. But, that's usually the way it is, isn't it? When they move on, get a job and a life, you don't normally read about them in the news.

36 Comments:

At 9:55 AM, Blogger mrsb814 said...

As for the Neighborhood Watch Forum at the Senior Resource Center Last night...

Well attended-thank you to all who participated!

This community meeting was very informative, connecting Neighborhood Watch Groups to First Five Humboldt/Better Together, the Red Cross, Volunteer Center of the Redwoods, North Coast Substance Abuse Council, Keep Eureka Beautiful and Feral Friends.

Virginia Bass, Mary Beth Wolford and Jeff Leonard came to participate and reassure us that our Public Safety Commission is about to become a reality. Nancy Flemming came to offer support and encouragement to take back our neighborhoods.

Helen L'Annunziata, the coordinator for First 5 Humboldt/Better Together organized the event and provided materials for NW captains to take back and share with the individual groups-and offered to throw block parties so neighborhoods can bond and get to know people living close by as well as develop coping strategies for problems and evolve our meetings to disaster preparedness (something we never seem to get to at our NW meetings since we are too busy putting out the little fires).

There is a lot of discussion on the blogs about community involvement, the public process and safety issues. By getting involved in Neighborhood Watch, you too can be a part of planning for safer neighborhoods and stronger communities.

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Oops! How could I forget to mention "Tim". Another one who was a real pleasure in The Hall. I didn't hear anything about him. I just noticed his obituary in the T-S. It never said how he died.

I feared it might be suicide, as so often happens. I bumped into Frank Jager one day and, knowing he also knew Tim, asked him if he knew what happened, Frank being the Coroner and all. Frank said he'd heard Tim was involved in a fatal car accident, or so he'd heard.

I guess that wouldn't really be something that one could point fingers at Juvenile Hall Alumni for. Everyone dies in car wrecks.

Still, Tim was one of thosed kids you could have fifty of in The Hall and you'd feel guilty for being paid for working with. A real fun kid.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like some of them responded well to the discipline and structure in the hall.

Too bad they didn't have it when they got out.

I blame parents for this mess. If the parent could handle the responsibility of raising a child (and that includes providing discipline and structure for the child), then we'd have a lot less of this mess. Too many parents now can't "control" their kids and let the state deal with them instead.

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too often, parents and teachers assume that discipline means punishment: spare the rod spoil the child!

That isn't true at all. Good discipline is predictability, stability, routine. Sounds boring I know-but its true-it works.

Knowing someone cares about you when you are young, that parents/teachers have the time to listen, providing good role models, do as I do and as I say (because its consistent)...that is discipline.

Predictability and stability are under-rated:
Coming home to a clean house-ok picked up house.
Having food on the table-even if its just tortillas, beans and rice.
Teaching kids its ok to be poor if you take care of your responsibilities first-feed the kids, help them with their homework, try to pay the electric bill, have fun together even if its just going to the library or the park to play ball/frisbee.

I grew up without parents (they were too busy with their own lives/work)-I had "Leave it to Beaver"...Show kids where to find those role models if they aren't at home.

If you can't be a good role model to your kids, Admit the mistakes and ask them to look at someone who is doing things right instead of yourself-Don't hold them back.

Don't ever give up on kids.

Read: Change Your Brain-Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen and ask (DEMAND) the Mental Health Community to do a better job of finding out what isn't working and how to make things better.

In this enlightened day when there are so many tools available, there is no excuse not to have what we need. Ask for help and demand that our resources are directed at SOLUTIONS.

We need to feel safe in our communities, safe in our homes, safe asking for services because they are readily available.

It is sickening to hear that someone was turned away from help at Semper Virens only to commit suicide that day.

Where is the OUTRAGE?
Where are the Solutions?

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Fred said...

True. Some do fine under controlled circumstances, then raise hell when they're not, as I've said earlier.

One of the many kids staff thought highly of there, I feel safe in saying, was a big kid, supposedly involved in some gang activity. He was in the Hall all the time.

Another one of those kids that was so pleasant, you'd almost feel like doing the job for free. But on The Outs, he just went nuts...I guess.

I remember E.P.D. brought him in one night. I believe he was caught shoplifiting. He fought tooth and nail to get away. He shows up at The Hall, the cuffs come off and he's all calmed down.

I had to ask him then, after hearing about the fight he just put up: "J***n, what gives? In here you're the nicest guy in the world. Then, I hear you put up a big fight over getting arrested. Why?".

He just said, "Once I'm here, I'm here.", and turned into his usual pleasant self.

I've seen him a few times on The Outs, although not in the last eight or ten years. Each time he was just as friendly as I'd ever known him to be.

I'll never understand it, especially when I saw his picture listed on "Eureka's Most Wanted", or whatever that column they used to have in the Times- Standard was where they'd show the four people in the county that police wanted the most.

I'll never understand it.

As far as the parents not controlling their kids, true, but it's been like that for some time and I don't see any indication of that becoming less of a problem in the future.

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post Fred. Sad as it may be some start out as child offenders and never stop. From reading in all sorts of periodicals and newspapers you can learn that juveniles can be very violent. Some think that they just don't understand or appreciate the value of life at that age? Maybe why some young kids drive like crazy on a motorcycle because they think they are invincible. Invincible unitl one of their buddies gets in a wreck and is confined to a wheelchair for life at 16 or 18.

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred maybe Joovie was the only 'home' J***n had? Stability, predictability-what's not to like?

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many kids start out with the deck stacked against them, druggie parents, horrific abuse, neglect, you see it every day. It's too bad you can't hold the parents accountable in some cases.

 
At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True 11:27 AM as seems to be the case with Burgess. But now Burgess's mom is banking on big money for her outstanding job as a parent.

 
At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 11:55, I asked an officer about why they would take a child from her, after her comment in the paper about always calling when the kids did something bad.

The officer said that CPS doesn't usually do that unless she was constantly calling the police for help. She is the failure in this case, not the system.

 
At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no doubt

 
At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since we are moving towards better code enforcement-might we also start thinking about truancy issues & making sure these kids are on a lunch program, getting better afterschool programs with snacks and homework help for the kids that don't have guidance at home? Why do they have to land in juvenile hall in the first place?

We don't have to allow 'cracks' for them to fall through!

 
At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why do they have to land in juvenile hall in the first place?"


Because too many adults fail at being parents. We need to hold the adults accountable.

 
At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can second the fact that CPS will almost NEVER remove a child from the family up here, no matter how disfunctional. Used to drive us nuts at the hospital.

 
At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, you spoke the truth that no one wants to hear. Doug Rasines could probably shock most normal citizens about what goes on behind the bars at JUVY. And when they are out? See what can happen.

 
At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would venture that school lunch wouldn't have helped this kid. Getting his Mom off meth might have.
Jumping to a conclusion there, but it holds true for alot of kids whose lives are disasters from the word go thanks to their parents.
It's not my fault, and it is not your fault. Our society offers opportunities and help of all kinds. These people make their own cracks and stay stuck in them.
Blame the people who are responsible. (Or NOT responsible) As in the wretched excuse for a mother. And the lack of a father.

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I'm sure the gory details will be splashed all over the papers soon enough.

We'll be getting the blow by blow for sure-and it will certainly remove us from the real issues-ALL the blaming Them vs. US that we always do.

What are 'we' going to do about it?

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point 11:55. Don't reward this kind of parenting.

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Thing is, we've gone way beyond that.

Families don't exist all that much anymore, except within the Cruz/ Matteoli families.

I don't know that more government progams can pick up the slack.

Seems to me, we're doomed.

 
At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have nothing to fear but the fear of doom ielf.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stated differently,
We have nothing to fear but the fear of doom ITself.

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger Rose said...

The vast majority of people are good, Fred. Take heart.

 
At 6:29 AM, Blogger Nick Bravo said...

The problem lies in the ability of self-governance. People like me, Fred, Eric, and others can govern ourselves and have no need for government interference

Yet there are those who do need to be governed, people like the majority of Anons on these blogs, the boy who was shot and the cop who shot him.

Part of the problem is that those in charge are often the ones in need of being governed. Take into consideration that in the "justice" system money and prestige count for more than truth. Thus wealthy thugs are given the right to self-governance, whereas a poor man of character has the gov't demanding governance over him.

Fred, as a libertarian, what is your view of self-governance?

 
At 7:03 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I like self-governance:

http://www.self-gov.org/

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Once again blogspot is spazzing out and it won't let me post anything but comments.

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Dick Bravo sure is full of himself! To the point of being crazy? Since he is so perfect he should run for the BOS's, or mayor of Eureka?

 
At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People bemoan the military, but the simple fact is many troubled kids just need a change of scenery, structure and discipline. There was a lot to be said for the days when a judge could say some version of "jail or the navy, your choice". Didn't work for everyone, but I saw it work for a lot.

But of course, "progressives" at the federal & state levels stopped all that, years ago.

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said: "Mike"- Accident or suicide? Unkown..."

Fred, I believe you are referring to Mike Coburn, who was a neighbor of ours in Weitchpec. Gambling is what really got him. He and a few of the local "youths" were whacked out on meth and other stuff and were playing russian roullete. He lost. It was a .357 mag belonging to his mom Pattie who has lost all her teeth from using coke and meth. His dad, known as "Dirty Bert" an ex con and meth mainliner was one of the locals who occasionally shot at us. Bert actually later kind of mellowed out and we got along after he realized he couldn't intimidate us.
Sorry to post anon but blogger will not yet allow us who have switched to "beta" to access comments on non beta blogs. You will be forced by blogger/google to switch to beta soon.

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Fred said...

No. Different Mike. This guy killed himself, accidentally or otherwise. He seemed to have quite a following. I saw at least one graffiti memorial for him on a building in town.

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I meant to write "accidentally or otherwise in Eureka..".

 
At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred,
You've made a lot of good points, as have others, about the importance of caring and responsible parenting.

One cure is training. Educate these new parents on how to be good parents. That's money well-invested for all of us.
Study after study has shown that too many people were raised by parents with limited skills and they carry that legacy forward, frequently with increasingly bad results. These results impact all of us.

 
At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meant to say limited parenting skills. Though the broader statement may be equally true.

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Nick Bravo said...

Part of the problem is that no one wants to be responsible for their own behavior or anyone else's.

 
At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Bravo said...
Part of the problem is that no one wants to be responsible for their own behavior or anyone else's.

9:06 AM

Well, Nick, I think another "part of the problem" is that people tend to exagerate when they post messages here.

 
At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Well, Nick, I think another "part of the problem" is that people tend to exagerate when they post messages here.

9:09 PM

People exaggerate when they post?!? What kind of crazy, messed-up world are we living in?

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say, Fred, Here is a question I think we would all like to have answered.

Since Christopher Arrion Burgess is now dead, will his juvenile crime record remain sealed or not? If not, when and how can the public get access to it?

 

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