The Burgess History
Kudos to the Times- Standard for their story in today's paper covering the late Chris Burgess' background. Still, it left me with a lot of unanswered questions. I still want to know just what he was like in Juvenile Hall. Unfortunately, the Probation Department, the ones who can answer that, aren't speaking.
It sounds like Burgess might have started out ok, from listening to his family and friends . Assuming that's true, it's no surprise to me. I've mentioned before how some kids in Juvenile Hall would be pretty fun to deal with then, when they return to the Hall some time later, their whole attitude changes.
It's also true, as the article mentions, that all it takes is one criminal offense, often a minor one, for the juvenile justice system to get hold of you and it can take years to get it to let go. Burgess' start into the world of crime being in possession of a pocket knife on school grounds- Something that wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow twenty or thirty years ago.
I question some of the references made to Burgess' Juvenile Hall stays, like a friend saying Juvenile Hall staff didn't try to get to know him. Well, sometimes you can't "get to know someone", if they won't deal rationally with you.
Burgess' friend also says he was kept in his room 23 hours a day because he was threatened by other detainees. I find that a bit hard to swallow although, if he was such a nice kid, why were other kids supposedly threatening his life?
I don't know how it is in The Hall now, but back when I was there a kid could spend considerable time in his room if he was on segregation for any number of reasons. Usually some accomodation was made for a segregated kid to spend time in the dayroom, where at least they could watch TV.
The most likely reason for a kid to spend a lot of time in his room was due to disciplinary action which, reading between the lines of the T- S article, I suspect Burgess got his fair share of.
So, hard to say just what kind of guy Burgess really was. He certainly seems to have had his fair share of friends, save those that wanted to off him in Juvenile Hall. Then again, even hard core criminals usually have some friends, so still no way of knowing just what kind of kid he was.
So one early evening, after the kid brought us yet another note, I began discussing the issue with Senior Counselor on the shift, Kristy. Something just didn't seem right about this to us.
I went to the kid's room and went through his papers, looking for a handwriting sample and found a few things he'd written. Sure enough, those threats that were supposedly left under his door were obviously written by him.
I don't remember how we ended up dealing with that. I think we just let him keep doing it until he got tired of it.