Photo by @melindagimpel on Unsplash

The Miami Youth Academy houses up to 28 boys from 14 to 18 years old, who are sent there by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The students publish stories and poems for their student newspaper Titan Tribune, which they produce in a journalism class run by Exchange for Change, a local nonprofit group that teaches writing classes in youth commitment and adult correctional facilities. Retired newspaper reporter Henry Unger has taught the class for nearly two years in collaboration with the academy and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This is an article from the May 2021 issue. Students are identified by initials to protect their identities. 

 

By C.E.  

During visitation this past weekend, I saw my daughter and I got to hold her for the first time. I was also glad to see my grandmother and grandfather. They were happy to see me.  

My grandmother and I talked about a lot of things. My daughter was playful and happy to see me. She looks just like me.  

It’s been so long without seeing my family. I’m glad visitation opened back up. I do not feel alone anymore, I miss my family. I just want to go home, so I can do the right things for my daughter. When she was here, I walked around with her. Then I showed her the new recreation area outside.  

My baby was so happy to see her daddy.   

  

By J. S-M. 

The visitation I received this weekend was great. I got to see my sister, dad, and my mother after waiting four months for it to open up.  

I felt like time was still moving too quickly during visitation but I used it wisely and talked until I had nothing to say anymore.  

The visitation impacted my thinking because seeing my family in person made me want to come home sooner, which is going to make me behave better at the program.  

My favorite part of the visitation was just seeing my family in general. I’m excited to leave soon because I will be able to see them every day. When I go home I will become a better person. 

  

By D.K. 

Visitation was a great experience for me because I haven’t seen my family in 15 months. My mom and my two brothers drove a long way from home to see me in Miami, but my mother said it was worth the drive!  

Seeing my family over the weekend after so long made me feel like I missed out on so much in life because my brothers got taller and bigger from when I left so long ago.  

Visitation changed my perspective on everything by showing me that time doesn’t stop or revolve around me while I’m incarcerated. 

 

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Students of Miami Youth Academy

The students at the Miami Youth Academy wrote these stories for their newspaper Titan Tribune, a collaborative effort by the facility, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Exchange for Change, a Miami-based non-profit group that supports writing programs in youth commitment and adult correctional facilities. The students work on the paper in a journalism class taught by retired journalism teacher Henry Unger. The writers are identified by their initials to protect their identities.