Should the camps be closed?

By M.C., 17-year-old female from South Central
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Illustration by Larry Zamel, 17, Fairfax HS (Los Angeles)

Once you get locked up you lose your freedom. You have to wait until they tell you when to eat, when to use the restroom, etc.

Once you get to camp the staff takes you to the Assessment Center for a week. You wear a green shirt, black pants and county shoes. Once that week is over, you get your stuff and go to the dorm. There are 110 beds and four platoons in the dorm.

Each platoon has its leader. We wake up at 6 in the morning. You have five minutes to get dressed and make your bed. According to the weekly order, whichever platoon has the highest points, grooms first. Once your platoon gets called, you go in the head (rest-room and showers). You have five minutes. Then when you get back, you go to "side, back or stomach" on your bed. That means you can read, write or just lay back. But if your platoon was acting up, like if you were talking in the head when you were supposed to be grooming, you have to be on "line up" (hands on knees), "hip to rail" (hip against the side rail of the bed) or standing at "parade rest" (hands behind your back and looking forward).

We move out as a company to the dining hall. We have 35 minutes to eat. Sometimes we would talk while eating and as a consequence we had to stand up, be on parade rest, stand at attention, then left face, right face. Then we got permission to sit back down. If we talked again our consequence would be to finish our meal while standing. But certain staff would make us leave our food and go run around the track.

After school we would go back to the dorm. If you were involved in any programs you would get dressed and leave. If not, we’d go to the blacktop and do PTs (physical training). Then we would have about 40 minutes to chat with our friends before dinner. After dinner we would go back to the dorm to shower and get ready for sleep. If we gave the night staff a hard time, the morning staff would make us wake up early and march around the track. If we refused, we would get put on lockdown and we wouldn’t get mail or phone calls.