Youth Lifer in CYA

For adults, San Quentin State Prison and Folsom State Prison are considered are notorious prisons. When it comes to youth, N. A. Chaderjian, AKA “Chad,” is one of California’s most notorious youth prisons.

“I don’t really like talking to you like this.” I told “J” who is standing behind a solid metal door with a long piece of glass in the middle. It saddens me to see him locked up in a cell because I was in the same situation many many moons ago.

Today is the first session of the 11 weeks of IMPACT (Incarcerated Men Putting Away Childish Things) program. However, our point person is on vacation so take the opportunity to do meet and greet with youth participants.

“J” who is gang affiliated told me that he’s been locked up in the California Youth Authority Since he’s 14 years old. He’s doing a youth life sentence for attempted murder. That means he’ll be out when he turns 25. At 20, he has 5 more years to go. However, with good behavior he may go home in 3 years. Since he’s in solitary confinement, “J” will have to learn how to get along with other wards who are rival gang members before he can program on the mainline population.

I encourage him to invest in his education and set short and long term goals. When I asked what he wants to do after he get out, he said he couldn’t think that far. He needs to work his way out of solitary confinement first.

I can’t help but wonder what will become of “J” when he leaves Chad after being incarcerated from a teenager to a young man.

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