Teens spend Thanksgiving in custody of state

Published 12:54 am Friday, November 28, 2008

Only two words were needed to describe what it’s like for teenage girls to be “locked up” on Thanksgiving.

“It hurts.”

Three teenagers were at the Troy Group Home on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, there would be only two.

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Although Brittany has been at the group home for only two weeks, she had a home pass until Friday afternoon.

Taylor, on the other hand, has been at the Troy Group Home since August. She was not given a home pass for Thanksgiving. Her anger was obviously spurred by misplaced jealousy.

“If I could go home, I would,” she said, casting a glace at Brittany. “I’m not mad at her, exactly. I guess, just mad at myself.”

Brittany was apologetic about her good fortune and admitted that would she almost rather spend Thanksgiving at the group home rather than raise the ire of the others.

“I want to go home, but I hate to leave them,” she said, not looking at either of her other housemates. “They might think it’s not fair for me to go.”

Christi shook her head.

“It’s all right for her to go,” she said. “Maybe we’ll get a home pass at Christmas.”

For Christi, this Thanksgiving was the first that she has spent away from home and family.

“It hurts a lot,” she said. “I want to go home but I can’t. I’m mad at myself and my family is disappointed in me and I’m disappointed in myself for making the stupid mistakes that put me in here.”

Taylor agreed that it hurts to be “locked up.”

“I could be going home for Thanksgiving but I got in trouble,” she said. “I stole something. Here we eat at certain times and we can’t have anything after those times. I got hungry and stole some applesauce.”

The applesauce that Taylor stole, and didn’t even get to eat, possibly kept her from getting the home pass at Thanksgiving. But it taught her something about going by the rules.

Christi said she is learning quickly to play by the rules.

“When my probation officer told me that I was coming here, I was so upset,” she said. “I cried and cried. I don’t know long I’ll be here but I know that I don’t want to ever come back again.”

Brittany is also certain that she doesn’t want to find herself in such a situation again.

“I’ll be here until March and I’m going to be respectful and do what I’m supposed to do,” she said. “I don’t want to come back and I don’t want people to know that I have been in the custody of that state.”

“In the custody of the state.” That’s a heavy burden for any 16-year-old to carry.

Taylor celebrated her 16th birthday in the custody of the state and that is how she and Cristi would spend Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to cook,” Christi said. “We’ll have turkey, green beans and corn. Things like that. My grandmother taught me to cook. So, we’ll have Thanksgiving dinner. Just us and (house mom) Julie.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Christi and Taylor said they would sit and eat a dinner they had cooked. After dinner, they would have dishes to wash and the kitchen to clean. And they were sure that all the while their thoughts would be of home and family.

“And the stupid mistakes that put us here,” they said. “And how much it hurts.”