Wednesday, October 20, 2010


So here I am.  I work at a The Youth detention center in New Mexico with some of NM's most troubled youth.  They are all here for crimes.  Murder, Drugs, Theft, Assault, Robbery, Gang related crimes.  It sounds intimidating, but really, it's not as bad as one's imagination might let on.  I don't ask about why the kids are here, though, some of them tell me anyways.  Needless to say i'm doing my homework, too.  I have researched gang violnece, sects and  gang tattoos of NM, because I see them everyday.  I can pick out who comes from where, now, based on their ink.  My Spanish is getting better, although it's more "street or slang Spanish" than anything else.  The kids seem to be ok with me, but i'm not sure why.  Maybe I don't push them.  I try to approach them as a friend, unjudging but giving open ears to listen. They tell me things, some of them heartbreaking, others make me angry, but I am trying to make them feel like they still have value.  The system is no place to be, not even for 13-21 year old criminals  It's a lonely, isolated place, with no room for genuine human interaction.  A lot of them have kids of their own, which reminds me that they are somebody's parent, somebody's role model, which makes their impact and learning so much more important.  If they don't figure it out, chances are, their kids will end up here too.  I am reading a book right now that they are reading called "A Place to Stand" by Jimmy Baca. 

He's a native New mexican tha grew up in the system, which has really helped me see through their eyes.  Good book.  It's really opening my eyes.  There is nothing so self and outwardly redemptive than lookng a murderer in the eyes and saying "I have faith in you, it will get better.  You are worth something, even when the world, the system, the community says you aren't.  You can be forgiven."  I can finally see what Jesus must feel like, having to say that to us when we are guilty of the same crimes.  Humbling. Everyday he looks us in the eyes, sees our sins and our mistakes and says: "I love you anyway.  You have value.  You are worth it to me." It is incredible to comprehend this kind of love and what it takes, and how much it must hurt sometimes. 

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