From 2012 to 2015, I worked as a Tracker for Linn County Juvenile Detention and Diversion Services in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a Tracker, I provided services to youths who were convicted of crimes, adjudicated, and subsequently ordered to complete probation. Juveniles in my charge were asked to comply with services which may include: electronic monitoring, therapies, drug screening, and community service; it was my responsibility to have continual contact with them to ensure these expectations are met.
Tracking and other similar community-based services are being increasingly used as an alternative to detention facilities. These services, which allow juveniles to stay in their homes, show a higher rate of success than strict incarceration. Although community-based services are built to foster a collaborative relationship between juveniles and service providers, attaining the actualization of teamwork becomes problematic when juveniles feel that they have done nothing wrong, are victims of circumstance, or do not fully understand why they have committed a crime. The system has been put in place to provide rehabilitation, but it is far from being a straightforward process. Many influences outside of the youths' control such as education, socioeconomic status, and race all play a role in whether or not a youth reoffends - all of these factors possessing the propensity to lead them to extended periods of incarceration in the juvenile system or to involvement with the criminal justice system as an adult.
By reconsidering the role that I played in the lives of the kids I worked with, I began to acknowledge the burden that comes with tasking young men and women with continued complicity. My stance as a consequence kept our relationships in a state of flux ranging from stable to tenuous
Earl at 15
Lucas at 15
Omnilink Electronic Monitoring Unit
Age 17 (Waived)
Marcus at 16
Attempted Murder, Going Armed with Intent, Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury
Earl at 15
Jerome at 15
Standard Issue: Jumpsuit
Jaeshawn at 16
Assault on a Peace Officer and Disorderly Conduct
Memphis at 16
Wendy at 14 and Sheila at 15
Standard Issue: Hair Care
Standard Issue: Oral Hygiene
Criminal Trespassing and Disorderly Conduct
Close To Home
Standard Issue: Sandals
Demetrius and Frank at 15
Kenny at 19
Megan at 16
Sheila at 16 (Off Paper)
Earl's Bed (Hickory Pod)
Age 19 (Reoffended As An Adult)
Dillon at 18 (Off Paper)
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