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  • Raymond Goins


Updated: Jan 18

By Raymond Goins

Editor's Note: On June 15th system impacted youth, formerly incarcerated young people, families & supportive communities from San Jose to Gilroy rallied in front of juvenile hall, the courts and the county to demand a stop to warehousing youth in juvenile hall.

The following speech was delivered at the rally by Raymond Goins, who was in each unit of juvenile hall as a teen.


Raymond Goins standing in front of the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall where he was once incarcerated as a youth (Photo by Charisse Domingo)

Paint stained with dry blood; aged loogies hug the walls – in concert with concrete stained with urine – while the stench hugs the air like that of a child being hugged by a new unwanted group home parent. Behind each door stories of trauma are held that can’t be expressed because that young person lacks the ability to even understand that they have experienced trauma.

Imagine that you were being judged by a system and penalized for not knowing what you don’t know. This is unacceptable for our community’s kids.

I would like to tell you a story about the parents who raised me from the age of 14 until they kicked me out when I turned 18 years of age. I was a ward of the state. And as I stand here before you as a 42-year-old parolee who graduated from being a ward of the state to state property, I can unequivocally tell you that I would not have committed 99 percent of my crimes if it were not for my introduction into this juvenile hall.

We stand here next to a building whose sole purpose is to condition undeveloped minds to believe that living in a cage like an animal is normal. What I do not understand is the reasoning behind how anyone can think that locking our kids up till they are 25 years old will benefit them, their families and the community that they will return to. Too many misinformed, overprivileged, miseducated individuals are making decisions that just do not work. How can anyone think that locking a child up from teen to adult without any examples of mature men and or women to model themselves after will produce positive results? This building represents everything that is wrong with our criminal justice system. We as a society talk about fixing a broken system, well the first step in my opinion to destroying the path that leads our kids to grow accustomed to dealing with the criminal justice system would be to destroy this warehouse that is built off the trauma laden lives of our children. I have just recently heard that the whole entire East Side Union High School District only has a handful of mental health professionals for the 22,488 students. All that trauma in that school district and we only have a handful of mental health professionals to help assist in the overall growth of our children, to help our children navigate dealing with unknown abuse, while continuing to inspire hope and education.

We must not further continue to fund this hopeless campaign towards failure, and we shall not further fund the destruction of my community’s children. We shall redirect the resources and funding into the school districts so that our children that have experienced unknown trauma have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our children should not be penalized for having a rough childhood. I ask you Mr. Jeffery Rosen and Chief of police Mata, if by chance your kids ended up in this very Juvenile Hall how would you like them to be treated? I would hope that at the very least you wouldn’t want your children treated like a captured stray who is awaiting to be euthanized by the criminal justice system.

Read the full demand letter sent to the county signed by 26 organizations here.

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