Incarcerated Teens Struggle With Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues. This Is How One Teen Found His Way Through – Colorado Public Radio

Posted: February 14, 2020 at 3:46 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

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By 17, he was fulltime in the juvenile justice system and couldnt see a way out.

I had nothing keeping me going, he said.

Then, he found out hed be a father.

It changed a lot for me because I knew if I didnt change, I couldnt be there for my son, he said.

Not long after, he left the detention center for the last time and entered Third Way. He was at one of its residential facilities when his son was born. He received a 48-hour pass to see the birth.

When I first saw him, I honestly cried, he said. The number one thing in life is my son. My son comes first over everything. The reason Im doing so well is my son.

He began to progress more quickly. He transferred to Lincoln, the last house and phase of Third Way where he had more freedoms, like access to a cell phone and to jobs.

He still had to check in with a case manager regularly and turn in his cell phone at night.

Still, every once in a while, someone would find out about his record and theyd act differently towards him.

Its hard for me to talk about my charges, Khamal said. I used to be what my papers show but Im not anymore.

Legally, he does not have to disclose because his charges are juvenile offenses, but it was important for him to not be ashamed of his past.

Khamal waited for weeks for his parole hearing. If granted, he would be able to get his own apartment.

First, the hearing got pushed back. Then, after he was able to leave Lincoln on parole, his application for an apartment was denied because his income wasnt high enough and he couldnt find a cosigner.

Then, he quit his job at Home Depot because it wasnt giving him enough hours. He made the switch to ARC Thrift Stores doing donations, making $11.50 an hour full-time. That meant riding the bus for more than an hour to get to work and see his son.

Its tiring but its money, he said.

One study found that after six months of reentering the community, less than half of returning juveniles were employed or in school. When they are employed, its less likely for these young people to have high-paying jobs, because they are likely to not have as much employment history or academic preparation compared to their peers who were not confined.

Khamals dreaming of the future these days: He plans to go to college, maybe Colorado State University at Pueblo, and play football. He played for three high school teams before he stopped going to school.

The first picture of Khamal as a baby features him holding a football, and he dreams of going pro.

But if that cant happen, he said hed be happy being a coroner.

When I was in school, biology was the only class I was actually attending, Khamal said, laughing.

Hell be able to get help on rent until hes 23. Both the Division of Housing and Brothers Redevelopment will contribute to his rent.

Hes back looking for a job, but this time around, he said he didnt feel the need to talk about his charges because hes moved on.In the meantime, he is the primary caretaker while his sons mother goes to work during the day.

I wish that he has everything I didnt have, Khamal said. I just dont want him to want for anything, I want to make sure he has so he doesnt feel like he has to go do what I did.

He will be done with parole in August.

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Incarcerated Teens Struggle With Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues. This Is How One Teen Found His Way Through - Colorado Public Radio

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