Lost Boys: Behind The Doors Of Alameda County Juvenile Hall

SAN LEANDRO (KCBS) – African American youth make up only 13 percent of Alameda County, but they comprise over half of the cases in the probation department.

There are reforms in the works to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate, but the underlying reasons why these teens offend remain the same.

KCBS reporter Holly Quan went behind the closed doors of Unit Four, the maximum security ward at Alameda County Juvenile Hall, to get the stories of some of those incarcerated.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Sammy, 17, said he knew armed robbery was wrong, but it was an adrenaline rush he couldn’t shake.

“It’s like having an orgasm. It feels so good knowing that you got away with it, knowing that you are about to spend someone else’s money,” he said. “It only takes you four or five seconds to grab $4,000-5,000 out of a fast food restaurant. You get to go to school the next day, showing it to everybody. You’re that guy. Everyone wants to be that guy.”

Sammy wouldn’t admit to how many robberies he committed, only saying he got caught for five.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s really addictive for people living that lifestyle,” he said. “They get all the girls. They drive the nice cars. But once you join that lifestyle, you have to constantly look over your shoulder. ‘Where’s my gun? Do I have enough bullets?’”

Tommy,16, was high when he took a gun and stormed a home.

“This is the first time I have ever done a home invasion. I was scared when I did it. I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “I did it with someone close to me. The cops want me to tell on the person who I was with, but I can’t do that. That person has a son and I know how it feels to grow up without a father and a mother.”

Joshua, 17, is facing robbery and gun charges. He admitted to having the gun after he said he was targeted at a dice game four years ago.

“I saw a gun in his hand and I wanted to run, but my body was shocked, like I was frozen,” he recalled. “I was shot five times and have a plate in my head. When it gets cold, I walk with a limp, because it hurts.”

He said the limp is just a reminder of why he refuses to let his guard down.

“People close to me were shot and killed before. But I never thought I would be the person to get shot,” he said.

On Wednesday, we’ll look at the reasons behind these crimes.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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