Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Juvenile inmates at Pinellas County Jail express themselves with art


The jail-issued flip-flops bear messages of violence, distress, anger and hope. They tell stories of young lives battered by abuse, torn by drugs and punctuated by crimes. • Each of the 15 pieces of artwork on display at the Pinellas County Jail was created by young inmates who have been charged or sentenced as adults, said Ramona Schaefer, program services supervisor for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. • The art installation, called Walking in our Juveniles' Shoes, was created in honor of domestic violence awareness month, and in recognition that half of the juvenile inmates who come through the county jail have been exposed to domestic violence, Schaefer said. • The art project encourages the teenagers to consider the decisions and experiences that led to their incarceration. There are currently 46 boys and girls held at the jail. The youngest is 14; the oldest is 17. • Each pair of decorated flip-flops is accompanied by a poem or essay from the teenager. To protect their identities, the juveniles are not named. Here are some excerpts:

"I've been arrested 11 times.

At 13, I seen my first piece of dope and once I touched it I became in love because of how quick I got rid of it and made $20. It was the best day of my life! I still love it but that's one thing that lead me to a road of lying, stressing, violence, hatred, and now redemption.

I've been shot at a couple of times and had to backfire and do the same. I'm not proud though because out of all the stuff I've done I'm sitting here in county with a little girl on the way within a week. Now I'm on a long road of stress. But now I've made a commitment to myself to go back to school because I'm still young and I'll let my daughter have the world."

Age 17, charged with burglary, possession of a controlled substance and grand theft.

"I have been through a lot in my life. I have done drugs and I have been hurt to many times. I should have committed suicide already. This life is not for me and the drugs have turned me to trouble. That's why I made this mistake."

Age 17, charged with armed burglary and possession of marijuana.

" Look me in my eyes

Try to feel my pain

Most people don't know how it feels

To be left out in the rain

Each and everyday

There's someone judging me

Worried about my life

And how I live

Everyday I wake

I got a hundred different haters

I'm trying to get this fast paper and

It stacks up like elevators

All this leads

to nothing but violence"

Age 17, charged with burglary of a dwelling and burglary with assault.

"In my life time I've been through all kind of ups and downs. I've been shot at. I've been beat up on. I've been hit with bats, sticks and bottles. … In my life time I've been called all types of names that made me feel down and ashamed. It also made me try to kill myself but I got help from someone about my problem and now I know that I will amount to something in my life."

Age 17, charged with first- degree murder.

"Money, Drugs and Guns are the key to violence around my neck of the woods. What I care about is my Family, Money and Love."

Age 17, charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery.

"When you look at my sandels you see a person that has had his heart broken a lot of times. He has shed a lot of tears in the past. He has had a lot of thoughts of suicide in his young life. He is a young kid that has seen people getting shot and killed and stabbed. He is someone really just living through the violence. As a 14 year old kid, I feel it is very hard living through this situation. At such a young age I haven't lived much of my life. And now I wake up every morning and see nothing but walls. It really stresses me out because I can't be with my family and friends and I'm looking at a 'long time' so it makes it even worse."

Age 14, charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon, two counts kidnapping and three counts robbery with a deadly weapon.

Juvenile inmates at Pinellas County Jail express themselves with art 10/31/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 1, 2009 12:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Man who fired at Temple Terrace officer is shot in leg, police say


    TEMPLE TERRACE — A man shot by a Temple Terrace Police officer has been released from the hospital and booked into jail on an attempted murder charge.

    Jordan Arthur Bowie, 24, of Tampa was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement after police say he shot at a Temple Terrace Police officer during a traffic stop. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Air tests at Tampa golf course do not find controversial pesticide at levels deemed hazardous by EPA


    Environmental monitoring at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course in Forest Hills found amounts of the controversial pesticide Curfew far below limits set by the U.S. Environmental …

    A contractor for the Tampa Sports Authority applied the pesticide Curfew at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course on May 9.
  3. National Weather Service predicts above-average hurricane season


    The federal government released its seasonal forecast on Thursday, predicting the season could be above-average in the number of storms and the strength of those storms.

    The GOES East satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and taken Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, at 9:15 a.m. EDT, shows Hurricane Matthew about 220 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Hurricane Matthew roared across the southwestern tip of Haiti with 145 mph winds Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, uprooting trees and tearing roofs from homes in a largely rural corner of the impoverished country as the storm headed north toward Cuba and the east coast of Florida. (NOAA via AP) NY109
  4. Video: Trump shoves fellow NATO leader aside on his first summit


    President Donald Trump muscled himself to the front of the NATO pack during a photo opportunity in Brussels on Thursday, pushing aside the leader of soon-to-be member Montenegro.

    In this image taken from NATO TV, Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, second right, appears to be pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump as they were given a tour of NATO's new headquarters after taking part in a group photo, during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels on Thursday. [NATO TV via AP]
  5. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]