La Teatrista

guerillera de la cultura

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CRYING OUT FOR A SENSE OF ADULTHOOD: What can we learn from the incarcerated youth?

I have referred to Riker's Island teen detention centers as the black and latino boarding schools. This check point in the system, as it functions now, is the problem as opposed to "a" solution. In this system that processes the underprivileged like money launderers (to be this outspoken is a conscientious risk as my personal opinion not CAT's) there exists a class that cannot progress without radically re-thinking collective perceptions of identities, communication, choices and consequences during the fragile transitional stage of adolescence into adulthood for a society that is not giving many options to what is a frightening majority.

This workshop with the trainers in the academy for correction officers is such an opportunity to really understand patience, acceptance and how to find solutions in the most delicate and dangerous of rehabilitative living conditions. How do Officers cope with a generation of youth that was created by the system for the system? What power do we have to offer the questions to that will create room for change?

Gwendolen Hardwick, Associate Artistic Director of Creative Arts Team and Keith Johnston, the Adult Services Program Director, are guiding the development of this workshop. In lieu of last year's homicide, the indictments of several officers and the further investigations of the teen centers at Riker's, the Academy is incorporating this training session as part of the curriculum for the new recruits.

These last two days the team has been exploring these questions as we devise our scenes that will be the base of the workshop and the activities used to have the participants find possible solutions. We first assess the populations and their conditions:

LAUNCHING PADS:
How do the Correction Officers perceive the teens?
How do the teens perceive the COs?
What are both groups experiencing?
What are the learned patterns of dealing with communication and conflict?
What is the difference between respecting the person vs. position?

INCARCERATED TEENS
What is an adolescent?
How do they rebel?
Why?

CORRECTION OFFICERS
What exactly is a correction officer?
How do you think your position is perceived?
Who do they serve?
What do they service are they providing?
How do you gain respect as an authority figure?
What constitutes their authority?
What made you take your job?
What are they dealing with?
What are effective coping skills?
How do you cope with the resentment on the job?
What are the challenges of dealing with gender specific populations and/or different sites?

Tomorrow we meet an officer to learn more about the culture of Correction Officers.

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