The Costs of Youth (by Shane)

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

All in black, I was dressed in an authentic U.S. Army trench coat tailored to my short stature and jungle warfare combat boots. Even though I still had a dimpled baby face, I was trying to portray myself as much older. I was already well on my way down the path of self-destruction. Drugs and petty crimes were common things, and more serious crimes like burglary, auto theft and dealing drugs were becoming more frequent. Although still just a scared kid, I’d grown more and more jaded and distrustful of others, as well as only concerned about myself. I was on my own.

Stepping through the door of a small pet shop next door to the pool hall I was supposed to meet Tom at, I moved immediately to the pen that held six small puppies. They excitedly yipped, yelped and bounced around as soon as I approached. I’d always wanted a puppy and loved to visit them anytime I had time to drop into a pet store.

Picking up the smallest one, obviously the runt of the litter, I cradled him in my arms and scratched behind his floppy brown ears. The baby cocker spaniel nuzzled into my arms and I kissed the top of his head. I wanted to take him home. Setting him gently back into the pen with his siblings, a deep hurt brought tears to my eyes. I had no home.

As I reached down to pet the puppies, Tom walked past the store’s front window, heading for the pool hall. Jaws clenching and releasing, the muscles in his pockmarked face made him look angry, but I knew that wasn’t the case. He was just high on crystal meth or “tweaking” as we called it. He’d been awake for a few days.

Waiting a minute or two, I slipped out of the store, and walked next door to the pool hall. As I entered, Tom was at a table near the restrooms. He saw me, and motioned for me to go into the restroom. Nervous, I put my hands in my coat pocket to make me appear bigger and more dangerous.

Entering the small, dirty restroom, I checked the two stalls to ensure that nobody was inside. As I finished, Tom entered and locked the door behind him.
“What’s up youngster?” he asked, forcing a smile on his face that made him look more devious than cordial.
“Yeah, you got your end?” I said, and waited for him to produce the cash before I’d even shown him the dope.
“Slow down, kid. I gotta see what I’m gettin’ first.” He stepped towards me, his hand out, palm up.
Stepping forward and removing my hands from my pockets, I said, “That’s not how this works, and you know that. I’m outta here. Get the fuck outta my way.”
Instantly his demeanor changed and out came a crumpled wad of cash from his pocket. “Hey, I was just playin’, youngster. Here.”
I took his cash in my sweaty palm, counted it out and stuffed it into my front pants pocket. I reached into my coat pocket, and pulled out a plastic baggie full of bootleg crystal meth known as “crank.” “Steve told me to tell you it’s an eight ball. Exactly 3½ grams. He said he’ll cut you off if you complain it’s light, so don’t even try it.” I tossed it to him, and started to leave.
As I unlocked the door, Tom opened the baggie, and headed into the first stall.
Passing the pet shop, I glanced over at the puppies. I wanted to buy one, but I continued to walk. I never got a puppy. I gave Steve his money, and for payment, I got to sleep in his car that night.

I did many things as a kid that were wrong and stupid. I was trying to survive on my own, and be an adult.

Recently, I’ve watched Arizona’s legislators and Governor Brewer callously and irresponsibly gut state-funded programs that provide help to kids in need. Programs that were severely lacking or nonexistent when I was a kid. I could have benefited from those programs in the 80’s. These programs being cut and done away with will have terrible repercussions on Arizona’s young people, and increase the likelihood that they’ll end up in prison. Prisons, jails and mental hospitals are full of adults who could have been spared this life if they’d had help as kids. So are cemeteries! How can somebody in good conscience make those cuts?

Click here for Shane’s own blog

Click here for the first blog about Shane at Jon's Jail Journal

Some of Shane's Prison Stories:
What Comes Around
Convict Justice
Fighting For No Good Reason

Our friends inside appreciate your comments

Post comments for Shane below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity

Shaun Attwood


Anonymous said...

Right! And just where is the money for these programs supposed to come from? Did any of your criminal types pay taxes on your illegal gains to fund programs? I thought not.

What we need is even tougher laws, you do the crime, and you are done! No cushy prison, no Arpaio whining, no prison fights, no medical bills, no 'For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, this poor man was sentenced to gazillion years ...' BS that Jon likes to tack on. Just a .44 and some psychiatrist time for the operator. That will be a bigger deterrent than any tax funded program.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is to intervene before displaced children become hardened criminalls, before they become the ones the next generation of displaced children turn to.
The cycle needs to be broken. I have seen too many child criminals (and I really mean children, not young adults of 14) who found themselves alone and befriended by those a little older and living outside of the law. Something could have been done then.
It wasn't an easy choice for the children I've met, even if they had a choice to stay with their family.