|Posted by Roland R. Hansen on May 17, 2020 at 5:10 PM|
This testimony was found on another blog. Praise the author for telling his story.
"Im awake" I say it again, but the Jamacain still slaps the corner of my bed with his hand. "get up up boy....im not going to tell you again" I murmer something under my breathe, He shoots me one last look then walks off to another room to hand out more cat 1s for not getting up in time. I look up and my 5 roomates have already begun thier morning assignments. They walk around the small room like zombies, barely awake, but somehow managing to look like thier busy for the ever attentative staff. Im not a working student so I have no responsibilities. (Nothings expected of me) I jump down from my wooden board and 4 inch futon like mattress. And I take my uniform off my shelf and unfold it and wait in line for the bathroom. The 2 infront of me yawn and strech thier muscles prepairing for the day ahaed. Its almsost my turn now, the 14 year old in the bathroom now is taking his time, as usual. I bang on the door and say "caleb, hurry the (ahem...) up" He opens the door, half dressed, and wadles out, I walk in, and step in urin on the floor. No big deal. I reach for the faucet and turn the knob, ....hmmm....no water, nothings changed since yesterday.
I change and grab my water bottle and my book. This week im reading 10,000 laegues under the sea. Although you wouldnt know it trying to read whats left of the cover (you learn quickly in TB that reading is the only escape from this miserable mind numbing repetative lifestyle we live in that 3rd world toilet.) I walk past my level 3 roomate whos busy sweeping the floor. I barely notice him, and I walk right through his pile of dust, dirt, and toe nail clippings, it doenst matter though, he see's me and doenst even give it a second look. The Hallways are busy as usual. The kids in O.P. are sleeping in the hall way, students are busy collecting brooms and mops for thier half ass future cleaning efforts, the night staff are still sitting in thier seats half way asleep infront of every room that contains "students". The day staff shift is up and already handing out categories to kids for meaningless rules such as faul language, horse playing, looking out the windows ,being slow, for not doing morning chores fast enough or good enough, etc etc etc. I walk to the door way of my room and asked the staff infront of the door permission to leave my room, the staff asks me if i finished my morning chores, and I tell him I have none, he tells me "get one" and walks away. I step out anyways and slowly walk over to an area my family has somewhat claimed in the hallways. recently Unity has been trying to "slowly push us out of our morning hallway spot", so today we agreed those who wouldnt do chores would go claim the spot for excellence before unity tries to pull that shit again.
I take 10 steps out of my room, hang a left through the staff infested hallways and Im already there. My friend Chris was already sitting down, He looked up to see who it was, He saw me and gave me a smerk, I kinda smiled back and backed myself up to a wall near him and slid down till i was sitting on the floor. I took a Sip of my warm water and opened my book. He asked me how did I like the book (he recommended it to me) I started talking about it with him as the excellence family crowded around us in "our area" and before I knew it we were already lining up. we Line up in the poorly lit hallway silently and I noticed Everyone has there baskets with them (its wednsday, washing day,..........damn) I run out of line and and into my room, (5 feet away from the line) I grab my basket full of dirty clothes and take a quick look to make sure im not forgeting anything. I walk out and my family fathers already waiting for me on the outside of the door with arms crossed. "I forgot my basket" I say in my defense. He hands me a cat sheet and tells me to fill out 3 cat 1's. (he did that just so I would have work sheets and miss P.E.) I snatched the Ridiculous pieces of paper out of his hand and walked back into line. I dont care, Im turning 18,......... soon TB will be nothhing more then a vague memory, and as I would soon find out, a constant platform for future nightmares. the staff did his head count and then waited for us all to stop swaying and stop mumbling in line before we could go anywhere. We walked downstairs and out the front door of the dorms. It was Hot, very hot. (the inside had no ac but atleast it was shaded.) We walked past the cafeteria in the blinding sun and after 2 min of stopping every 25 feet and doing head counts we reached the " shower area" every one sped walked (running is a category) to the back of the shower area to grab 2 buckets each. 1 for washing and scrubbing, the other for rinsing. Some kids have thier friends grab a bucket while the other holds an outdoor faucet for them (4 faucets 23 kids) So there is ALWAYS some sort of pushing and shoving over faucets, being next in line, and wether or not its okay to have someone save a faucet for someone else......you know...the important things in life.
After you fill your bucket up to the top you fill your second bucket half way, (but dont dare fill your rinsing bucket up to much, for wasting water in jamaica is like breaking one of the commandments.)
After waiting 10 min in line for some water everyone then sat in a circle in the middle of the hot ass sun and scrub our clothes with our bare hands as if it was 1850. Everyone silent .....quiet, taking in the incredible heat, fighting the bugs, and scrubbing (and of course i guess a (ahem...)in brush would be to much to ask for) After washing, you hang your clothes on the wires running across the area. Then you empty out your bucket full of filthy water, and you refill that bucket, take it in the outdoor shower stalls, empty out your water bottle, and proceed to wash yourself with a bucket of water at your feet (standing on a crate to keep you elevated from all the mold and grime building up on the never Ever cleaned shower stalls) and you dump water on your head with a bottle one cup at a time. If you take more then 10 min you get a category.
Today Shane got out of O.P. (shane is 14 years old. Hes very small and picks fights with everyone, And has lost every fights hes gotten into. After 1 years he is still in a program, He is constantly pushing the staffs temper and almost always get restrained for the staff have no fear of him and since hes always in trouble, staff have the right to restrain him for anything . Everyone picks on shane, hes very annoying and watching him get restrained is actually rather entertaining considering the place your in and having him leave the family is a relief, so even the upper levels purposlly push him over the edge. (yes upper levels) (a lot of good this place does huh))
Anyways, as i showered, someone decided to throw shanes shorts in one of the shower stalls. He saw his shorts and freaked out, he began screaming and walked over to every one asking them who did it. Some other kid trying to be difficult (even though he didnt do it) he started messing with him, saying things like "i know who did it" and "Im not telling you" Basically pushing him over the edge. Shane flipped, began throwing lefts and rights, pretty soon both male staff grabbed him and trying to impress the students around them, picked the undersized kid up and carried him out of the shower area and into O.P. for immediate restraining. (some staff love to show off infront of the kids, it happens more then any of you would believe) The Family clapped and laughed as the small kid was carried away crying, kicking, and screaming.
We then Lined up in the heat and waited for the staff to take his head count, we then walked back in single line (as always) to the families rooms and put our empty baskets and shower suplies back on the 2-3 shelves we were given when we first arrived. (you only need 2 or 3 shelves, you own so few possecions) after getting 45 sec to put our stuff away, were already linging up in the hallways silently waiting for the head count. My friend infront of me looked behind me and saw me reading in line. He kinda elbowed me to warn me that im gunna get in trouble. I whipser "i dont care" the staff walks over and asks him why are we talking. After 20 seconds of explaining that he was telling me to stop reading the staff decides to give him a category and me 2 categories. (I really dont care, but my friend is trying to reach level 3 so he can hear his little brothers again.) after waiting for the staff to stop flirting with the female staff we start our descend to the bottom floor to the class rooms.......I whisper an apology to chris, he turns around, gives me a smerk, then keeps walking. Its hard to smile here.
Outside of the rooms the girls are linging up from P.E. I turn my head out of line and stare at one of the pretty girls as if I were at a buffet table. Staff see's me and yells " You boy, fill out a romantic encouragement" I laugh it off and pretend like I really care what this underpaid over worked little black man has to say to me. (thats about 3 hours in work sheets, You'd think I would have learned by now......lol......(its still early, its only my 3rd week.)
After walking 100 yards we reach the school. Thank god. A/C! after the staff makes us stand outside till he can hear a pin drop, we we walk in, and you can actually hear each student sigh as the cold air covers thier sweaty skin. We all take our strategic assigned seats which are meant to keep the talkers away from one another and the silent type inbetween the talkers and fighters. This is our 1st trip of 5 trips to school today (just like every other (ahem...)in day) its still early, so the "teacher" hasnt arrived yet. we spend 1 hour in class, everyone who had to take a shit since early this morning or late last night now has an opportunity to use the bathroom without having to plunge it after finishing. (the classrooms have running water, unlike the dorms, shit holes, bedrooms, whatever you want to call them) For the next hour we are suppost to sit quitely and prepare for the teacher. which is ridiculous, for they might as well call it......."put your head down time" (i dont think an explanation is needed there) Its only 9, but im already starving, its been 16 hours since I last ate, and yesterdays dinner (as usual, jus didnt quiet cut it) I sat in class for an hour, stomach rumbling, begging me for food. I also put my head down, (I guess subconsiouslly trying to conserve energy or whatever little food is in my stomach.) (yesterday was sunday, we only got 2 meals!!!)
Its finally 10, we slowly walk towards the cafeteria, stopping frequentlly for he head counts. After what seemed like forever, we finally reach the cafeteria. The staff then keeps us outside till hes good and ready to let us in. The line leader stares at the staff waiting for him to command us to enter for our scheduled morning meal. we walk in (in line of course) and grab the meal that is already lined up for us. The new kid takes the plate that wanst next in line and the staff gives him a cat 3. His buddy pleads with the staff to drop the "charge" he does, and I giggle, (its tough getting used to these rules) we place our meals on the table and stand behind our chairs, we wait for the supervisor to finish her convo outside, when she walks in, she walks around, catches a few people not groomed properly (un'bottoned button or shirt sticking out. etc) after 45 sec of walking around she says "sit" and we all sit down and dig in. This lovely morning we are having a small handful of cooked cabage, even less ground up very uncooked meat, and 3 pieces of white bread.
I dont care, if u placed cooked cat infornt of me i would have finished it all by myself. (probably would have tasted better too...) Compared to the fish or the soup, or some of the other meats, the guwy cabage is actually a treat. Its been 4 min since we walked in, and the kitchen cook/chef/janitor/staff/gardner places the tape in the radio and as we eat silently we listen to the same exact tape we heard yesterday, and the day before yesterday, and the day before that. (welcome to beautiful Tranquility Bay!)
I finish my meal and Im alreday looking at others plates who either cant eat the ground up meat or wont touch it, and then try and trade my nasty ass powdered milk for there food. (its against the rules to trade or give food, they would rather you throw out food before you give it to another hungry child) (thats the mentallity in TB)
Micah still wont eat, hes lost 50 lbs since he first got here, but hes also got a few std's from one of his mothers pimps, so they blame his wait loss on his desease. Micah starts picking up plates and brings me his and I quickly devour what he wouldnt or what he says "physically cant eat" Staff dont care, eaiting disorders is beyond thier basic knowledge of handing out categories and holdding thier crotch when they talk. (okay not all of them, but most......)
After BF we go to the dorms (single file line, I know I keeps saying it, but its all the time, they treat us like ignorant sheep in that place......the scary part is, u get used to it,........all of it)
We walk to the dorms and take off our sandals outside of the room in the hallway. We walk in and the staff hands the upper level some random book that hes suppost to choose words out of for fellow students to spell. But is actually more like an opportunity for the student tester to find words that insult or offend the perticular student and then have them spell it. Staff know it, they do....they dont care.......
So after 30 min of “Jonathan, spell fagot"......."Im not gunna spell that"....."Spell it or I tell father"....."F-a-g-o-t"......"thats right Johnathan, your a f-a-g-o-t"
We line up...(again) and wait (again) we walk downstairs and go back to school. The teachers thier now, so no more relaxing. Now youve actually got to put some effort into looking busy. The so called teacher doesnt teach, she hands out precopied test, then checks them with test answers she got form the states (I know she couldnt properly check 1 test without it) I dont do school work, Ive flat out refused (but I'll leave my own reasons and explanations for later) (in a few simple words though......I will not allow them to manipulate me or much none the less change me as a person, I like who I am.......and thats that.)
After half an hour of sitting quietly and writing letters to people who will never get them, nature calls. So I raise my hand and wait till the staff is "good and ready" I apporach the desk that all the staff sit around and eat shit at. (eat shit as in do nothing) I say " can I have toilet paper for the bathroom" the staff trying to be funny for his buddies says "what for?" and smiles.I wanted to say something back or do something, But in TB physical force accomplishes nothing. so I just walk away. Which really offended him. Which will and does come back to haunt me, but its hard to take shit from people who are purposlly trying to be disrespectful.
I then raise my hand and ask another staff, and he sends me back to the other staff, (just my luck) I come back to the same staff and ask the same question. He looks at me, unrolls the TP they keep locked up like a fire arm, as he hands it to me he tells me "no jacking off in the bathroom" but he says it loud enough for half the class to hear. what ever....you get used to it......(sadly)
Class is over and in single file line we go back to the shower area to collect our clothes and fold them up. after 15 min of folding in the heat chris comes up to me and tells me that travis stole my sun block. (im not pist though, Im not mad at him, even though hes a thief, Im not mad at the staff who disrespects me, im mad at this place, I hate this place, I hate what it does to people, I hate how it makes you feel about life, I hate how they manipulate you, I hate what they get away with, and even worse, I hate the fact that im scheduled to be here till im 1 (deep down I dont know how much longer I can take being held opressed, poorly treated, poorly fed, etc etc. Not even the kid who stole my sun block deserves this)
Now about my freaking sun block. I find travis puttin his clothes away on his shelf, and ask him for my sun block, He tells me he doesnt know what Im talking about. (i cant believe this kids lying to my face) I quickly reach in his basket, pull out my sun block and hold it infront of his face. He actually laughs, then asks me not to tell.......I didnt answer, I walk away.....I get inline and close my eyes. I picture my friends and what there probably doing right now, I think of my father and my pets, I think of the beatiful miami beaches, I think of the park near my house and the kids playing on the swings, I think of the times Ive hung out with my friends laughing and playing around..."Stop your day dreaming boy!....hurry up..."
I catch up with the line, thier walking towards P.E. the same disrespectful staff walks up to me and tells me I have worksheets to serve. I walk into the room with 5 other kids from my family who have all been caught for some ridiculous rule they broke. We sit in the hot room, wondows closed, doors closed. (they d that on purpose) The jamaican heat has no where to go. The staff tells us the rules of the of the TB handbook "no laughing, no tlkaing, no standing, no picking at your fingers, no calling out answers, feet together at all times, no looking around the room." He continues speaking, he puts the tape in. Each tape is 15 min long there are 30 questions hidden in each tape. Most of the kids in thier are work sheet regulars. Some of the kids even quietly say the tape word for word to themselves.... To my left is this kid with a feminen name (constantly gets made fun of) he sat there, didnt do one tape the entire time, but instead slowly pulled hairs out of his legs. 1 by 1 he found a hair on his leg and pulled it out. (i never understood why he was doing it, but when he saw me looking at him, he stopped)
After 3 tapes I was done, and I was sent back to my family which were at P.E. I was escorted to my family, I ran over to chris who was playing football on the concrete with a few others. I joined in, probably the highlight of my day, maybe my week.......all of my days in TB are jus one big miserable blur anyways.
After P.E. we lined up and were taken by the family fathers to the shower area, were we showered and got dressed. We went through the routine without flaw, 6 take a shower, when they finish 6 more, when they finish 6 more until we were all done. We lined up in the blazing sun, waited for staff and were soon on our way to Lunch. We left our water bottles outside and stepped into the dry smelly cafeteria. The tape was already playing, we walked in, single file, grabbed our lunch and waited for the supervisor, she looked around, bitched about a few things, and then gave the okay. We sat down quietly, (made sure we lifted our chairs as we pulled them out from beneath the tables.) Today we are having 2 peieces of white bread and ground up meat that if spread around, barely covered one full side of the bread, and 4 crackers. It didnt matter though, The meats disgusting, and in my opnion, uneatable, so I traded it last week for a dinner role to a level 3. I nibbled my crackers 1 by 1 trying not to let 1 of my taste buds go uncovered. And just as quickly as lunch came, it was over, and just as hungry as I was this morning,.....is just as hungry as I am now.
We walked upstairs, (single file....im telling you......the lines never end in TB) We stand infront of the dorm room we spend most of our "waiting time and family rep time" in. We wait for staffs approval, then we take off our sandlas (no shoes...easier to run away with in) we then walk into the room and sit down and wait for the family representative. (Now I dont exactly rmember what happened this day with the family rep. So let me Throw some information out about this whole family representative thing instead)
For those who dont know, Each family has 1 family Rep, you spend 1 hour a day with your family rep as a group. You sit inside your room, when she walks in, everyone stands up together and says "Good afternnon mrs blah blah blah" the family rep then sits down, opens her notebook and begins her "thrashing" You see, your family rep is your only commmunication between you and your family, your family rep speaks with the students mother and father once a week and updates them on your situation. Your family rep has ultimate power over you and your situation at TB. If your Family Rep doenst like you, you will spend much much more time in TB then you should have if she liked you. She decides when its time for you to go home, she decides if you go to pc1, pc2, or pc3. She decides if you move up a level, she decides. Your life is in the hands of this woman, and you are wrong if you dont think tyranny is not a problem with them. They are cocky, and rather ruthless, they call you out, and make you spill embarresing information, or its time in O.P. on your face. About 4 people every day get to speak with her in group, she makes you stand up, and then asks you extremely personal questions infront of everyone else. and then, after all that, she has these kids get up and tell you what they think about your situation and tell you what they think you should do. But its not like that, these "responses" from other students are mean vicous attacks on one another, where helpful info isnt given, but chances to throw your mistakes in your face and then give in a few cheap shots were insults are thrown at you and you cannot respond. And the worst thing about all of this, is that the family rep is okay with this, okay with this horrible things these kids say about your family and the person you are, and no...this is not constructive criticism, it is destructive and very hurtful when you bear your sole and deepest secrets to your friends and enemies then have it thrown back in your face. In other programs your family therapist gives you her opnions on your actions and then reports them back to your parents, But, it is controlled and mediated by a proffesional therapist. Not in TB, these woman (there are no male family reps as far as I know) are not qualified to be a family therapist much none the less take on the responsibility of both therapist and family Rep. They have not earned the right to control the lives of 30 kids.
When the embaressment is over you make your way with your family back to school. On our way to school, the girls were on thier way to the library, and since the boys cant SEE the girls they made us walk around the back of the facility. The next 2 hours were spent in class, nothing really unexcpected happened. Which really sucked, for at TB you live for the unexpected, everything is the exact same, everything, nothing changes, the poeple, the food, the treatment, the hunger, the staff stealing shoes and clothes, the little medical attention, the water shortage, the electrical outages, the disrespect, the constant misery that seems to shroud this place, everything is planned out and the exact same thing happens ever single day, which is why little things like kids getting restrained are highlights of peoples weeks. After The last School trip with a teacher in the class room (which means nothing more then the chance to take test, thats all teachers do, they dont tutor, parents must pay for that seperately) We make our way to the dorms. its about 5 pm now and were suppost to be in the dorms doing somehting called "kareoke" but we have no radio, no koreoke machine, and were not allowed to sing....so its just something they put in the schedule to make TB seem like its something that its not.
Anyways, this hour before lunch is spent doing 1 of 2 things, (depending on how lenient the staff is) either sitting quietly reading or holding a "family group" which consist of a person at a time telling "war stories" about there past, such as the different drugs they've tried, the different girls they've been with, the unlawful things thy've done etc. etc. In other facilities this is deeply frowned upon, and can even get you sent to O.P. but not in T.B. alote of staff dont care what your doing unless thiers another strict staff around or a supervisor on shift near by. So basically you walk into TB knowing how to smoke weed, and leave with a wide knowledge of heroin, shrooms, coke, and even peyote. (maybe once a week do you get a chance as a group to talk shit about your past)
When dinner time comes around we line up, and are escorted to the cafeteria and fed whatever small amount of food is on the list. If its meat, its full of fat bones and is never enough. If its bread, its hard and old. If its fish, its just outright nasty. And no matter what it is....it is always cold.
Today we had cold soup, which is basically a mix of the past 2 dinners. I never eat the soup, My stomach couldnt handle it. I always gagged after eating it....so I kinda learned my listen the second time.
Twice a month you get to see your therapist. I was escorted to my therpist who sits in a nice office, with a/c a tv and all of these american food and condaments that are like gold in TB trading. He sat me down and started to ask me about my family, I told him I was waiting till i was 18 and that I wasnt going to work no matter what. He somewhat agreed with me, (he certainly didnt argue with me) and asked me if i could help him with some of his paper work, I spent the next 30 min matching up names with groups and times, (basically scheduling his next 30 appointments) (It turns out my mother paid 75 dollars for those meetings.)
You gatta love this place.........
The next few hours are spent in school writing home, its a rather depressing couple of hours. (then again what isnt depressing at TB) everyones real quiet, there all huddled over thier desk writing home, some crying, others mad, some wont write home, some just dont care. Everyones caught up in thier own situation, Everyones....trying to go home.
Its now 9 pm, everyones tired from the day, the day staff leave, and the night staff get settled in thier respective chairs infront of everyones room. Some kids are getting ready for tomorrow, others dont wanna even wake up from thier sleep tonight, The kids in O.P. are getting restrained. shanes in O.P. so no one will get any sleep tonight, hes gunna be restrained until his little body cant take any more bruises. Todays over, and tommorows a new day, but tomrow you dont go home, tomorrow you dont drive your car to work, you dont go to the store or handle currency, you dont get to say goodnight to your family or friends. Tomorrows just 10 hours away, and in 10 hours, you do the exact same thing over again. Tommorow exactly the same, nothing changes, You stand in line al day, you take shit from your peers, you get disrespected by staff, you starve all day and go to sleep hungry, and then it starts all over again and the same thing after that, and the same thing the next day.
If your reading this, Youve just spent 1 hour in the life of a Tranquility Bay prisoner, 60 minutes........now imagine a whole day of this bullshit, now picture a week of this slow misery, now imagine a month of this or a even year! or for many kids, a few years........ everyone makes mistakes, but, no one deserves this treatment.
Everybody needs help at one time or another........this....... isnt help.........
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