Three Teens Share Their Stories from the Post-Adjudication Program

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

You might not think an inspirational story could originate from behind bars, but we found three of them. Three teens who broke the law, found themselves in the Ector County Youth Detention Center, but they committed to change. Their success can be attributed to the Post-Adjudication program - helping juvenile inmates transition back into society.

This million dollar program is funded by Ector County taxpayers and officials say the community support is second to none, but we wanted to know what it's like on the inside. We met with three teens who shared their stories of how their lives have changed.

It might not be a pleasant noise for inmates, but at the Ector County Youth Detention Center it's the sound of change. We had the chance to sit down with three teens who've just completed the Post-Adjudication program, and they're the first to say serving time in the center is all about change.

"There's just a time, we go through trials and things like that for a reason," Maggie, a Juvenile Inmate said. "I know I had to do this program for a reason."

Maggie has been in the Post-Adjudication program for more than a year. On Tuesday, she celebrated her last day.

"Before I got locked up, I was running the streets, doing all kinds of stuff, doing drugs, I was on drugs and alcohol and stuff," she said. "I would just leave the house whenever I wanted to. I wasn't disciplined or anything like that, but once I came into the program they really showed me how to be more disciplined."

The new graduate tells NewsWest 9, it's the specialized counseling that altered her persepective.

"They helped me a lot," Bill, a Graduate of the Post-Adjudication Program said. "They brought my spirit up again and helped me a lot, keep my head up, and tell me everything's going to be alright."

Bill landed himself in the detention center after being convicted of drug-related crimes. He says the program was a wake-up call.

"I needed a lot of help," Bill said. "I was like, I'm going to need to stop doing drugs, go to school more, get my education and do what I need to help my family out and just keep on the right track."

Officials say drugs, violence, and sexual offenses are the most common tales of those behind their doors.

"The drugs, money, and thinking I can do whatever and the power that the money brought me," Mark, a Juvenile Inmate, said. "I just didn't care about nobody else."

After surviving the intense school and counseling classes, Mark says he's grateful for the change and he doesn't ever plan on coming back.

"I've seen what it does to the rest of my family and now they're struggling and I don't want to go through the struggles," he said. "I don't want to be always watching my back and be out there getting shot or something."

"The enjoyment I get is seeing the kid transition from coming in with a bad attitude and leaving with a positive attitude," Juvenile Probation Officer, Alex Ornelas, said.

And the grads say they plan to spend the rest of their lives making a difference.

"I was always in and out of here, but this place really helped me to change," Bill said.

"I want to finish school, go on to college and do good in my life," Mark said.

"I hope I succeed in school and one day that I become a helping hand in society, in the community," Maggie said.

The Post-Adjudication program is the only one of it's kind here in West Texas, and it's success rate makes it top in the state. 86% of the teens never re-offend.