Chicago Public Radio has begun a series called Inside and Out, about young people and youth prisons in Illinois. Thousands of teenagers cycle in and out of this state’s eight youth prisons every year-1,500 are locked up at any one time. The radio station wanted to know: Who are they? What are their needs? How does their time inside help or hurt their chances of turning their lives around?
The series began by interviewing Marcus, a 14-year-old boy who’s struggling to graduate from grade school. Marcus is a pseudonym we’re using to protect the young man’s identity. For Marcus, joining a gang was gradual, it just kind of happened. It started with hearing the tales of school mates who stayed out all night and had adventures.