So I've worked at the center for a pinch over 3 years. My job title is a little misleading because not only am I a counselor but we also do the duty of guards. We do not have guards in my center, the counselors deal with all issues. I always think I've seen everything, then something even more strange happens. I am limited a bit by what I can say due to confidentiality laws but I will do my best to answer as honestly as I can.

Edit 1 115pm: Thanks for all the great questions, I'm gonna be unavailable for a couple of hours but if you want to leave more questions feel free. I'll do my best to answer them when I can. Thanks again!

Edit 2 300pm: Ok I'm back. Looks like I have some new questions to get to. I'm gonna do my best to get to them all. Before I start if you read this AMA please take time to volunteer at local programs that work with kids it can save a life, you can't understand how much just 1 hour a week can mean to these kids. Also contact your local elected representative and tell them you want your government to help people not "hard on crime" if you hear some one say the support "hard on crime" give them a polite, but firm (Canadian style) open handed smack in the mouth. Hard on crime doesn't help anyone. Ok time to answer questions!

Edit 3 730pm: Well that went really well. You guys had some great questions, I hope I did a good job answering them and y'all learned some things. I'm gonna call it a night because my Vikings are about to crush the Giants on MNF. Please get your pets spade and neutered! Good Night everyone!

Comments: 163 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

push4dustin18 karma

Do you feel like you make a difference in these people's lives?

Mr_Bluejay26 karma

Yes. Even if they don't "get better" giving someone who has only ever experienced violence a peaceful place to live for however long they're in the center. It's small but If I didn't focus on little victories then I'd go crazy lol.

stoicsmile8 karma

Wow, youth jails must be pretty different in Canada than in the US. "Peaceful" is not a word I would use to describe our youth jails.

Mr_Bluejay27 karma

Ya I've seen some TV shows about American jails and lots of people here ask if it's the same and it is not even close. I talk a lot before any physical intervention happens. It traumatizes kids and destroys trust I've built, it's so counter productive. I wouldn't describe the center as peaceful compared to say a lake in the summer but compared to drive by shootings and rape it's significantly better.

slowwburnn2 karma

You sound like the best guy ever.

Mr_Bluejay2 karma

I'm just one person trying to help some kids who get pushed aside by society. I appreciate the compliment.

Gravy-Leg__12 karma

Have you ever been physically threatened?

Mr_Bluejay23 karma

Yup. Once after breaking up a fight a resident sucker punched me to try to get back at the person he was fighting. I had him pinned against his cell door and my co worker wasn't popping the door from remote door panel we have at the staff desk. So I tried to get my key and open it manually. When I looked at the lock he clocked me on the right side of my face and got away from me. Needless to say I was a little annoyed that my co-worker put me in that position.

Ringbearer311 karma

Did anything ever come out of that? Officially?

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

Like a charge? Not in that case. It does sometimes. It comes down to staff discretion. We can press charges for things like that if we want. I didn't in that instance.

howboutthatshit11 karma

Hey, neat AMA, ill start i guess. Whats the main reason that the youth are there ? Like what did they do to end up there. Also, whats the most extreme case youve seen?

Mr_Bluejay20 karma

We hold all sorts of crimes. From breaching probation or a court order all the way up to violent murders. We hold the spectrum of crimes. We've had pretty brutal murders come through, although the stuff that makes my skin crawl is sexual abuse, especially of children.

bowtiedbatman8 karma

I opened your ama, originally thinking id see a lot of jokes about it being a center i canada but then i actually started reading it. Im 16, a highschool dropout (long story), working roughly 25 hours a week for a paycheck i dont even get to keep. Needless to say, im a bit unmotivated as of late to do anything important with my life. I always thought id grow up to make a difference, but now im almost grown and ive never been so lost. Anyway.. i just wanted to let you know that you inspired me.. ive had interest before in doing something similar to what you do (i.e. law inforcement or counceling involving youth) its always been something ive highly respected due to things that have happened in a family members life. I dont really know where i was going with this but thank you.

Mr_Bluejay4 karma

Anyone can help out. Try volunteering at a Big Brothers and Big Sisters type program. Just spending time with kids can help a lot. Good luck and I hope you do big things because these kids need as much help as we can find for them. I'm rooting for you, go for it!

Iamadansuer7 karma

Do cell mates often fight?

Mr_Bluejay16 karma

Yes, not usually cell mates because if they fight with their roommate they lose the ability to have a roommate which is a big privilege. However fights happen relatively often.

divs_pl7 karma

What are the benefits of having a roommate?

ZeppelinFTW11 karma

I would assume less boredom and the possibility of friendship

Mr_Bluejay10 karma

Yup, that's it. Children have a hard time finding something to do in a room full of toys. Imagine being in a room by yourself for an hour or 2, it sucks. Having a roommate makes room time a little easier.

skadishroom1 karma

Considering my son spends most of his time bored because he is an only child, I could see a roommate being very important.

Do you do any animal therapy? I have heard how dogs are proving a massive difference for adult prisoners, it seems like it could really help teens.

Mr_Bluejay2 karma

We don't have any animals, no. However there are programs we refer to that use animals. Lots for FASD residents.

CaulkLiquor7 karma

How often do you get called a goof in the span of an average day? Being in Manitoba, I have to ask. on average how many of the residents are of aboriginal descent?

Also, good on you. Just don't let it burn you out...

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

Lol I've been called a goof a time or two. I'd love to know the root of why that's such an offensive word in our jails. I don't have clue. A very high percent of our kids are aboriginal. 70-95% if I had to guess.

CaulkLiquor3 karma

heh, I spent some time in a group home that had recently transitioned from an open custody facility for youth in Ontario.

I was a naive kid with no street experience, I learned week one that you don't call someone a goof... I have no idea where people started using "goof" like that either, but it is an interesting question lol

meagorilla7 karma

from Wikipedia : "In Canada, "Goof" has been used in the prison system, mainly associated with child abusers and later used to describe sexual offenders of any sort. It also is used, especially in elementary and high school, as a general (and highly offensive) insult."

CaulkLiquor3 karma

No no, we both know that. We were referring to the history of the term lol

meagorilla3 karma

gotcha! I'd never heard it before... now I feel a little offended that my grandma used to call me a goof

CaulkLiquor1 karma


ya, its really a litmus test if someone has hung around convicts or been to prison themselves lol (for me, now, anyway). Consider yourself lucky :D

Mr_Bluejay5 karma

Ya I had never heard it before I started working, it was like the first thing you learn as a staff. "Don't call them goof's and if you hear someone say it get ready for a scrap." lol

senor_ww6 karma

Whats your opininon on the U.S. juridical system that allows to sentence juveniles to life terms? Technically they are not sentenced to life in prision but rather to insanely long sentences (40, 50+ years)

Mr_Bluejay18 karma

It's crazy. I'm a big proponent of rehabilitation and stabilization. Studies done on our kids show that 8 out of 10 have suffered long term acute trauma. We need to treat this trauma not make it worse. I believe intense family counseling would be much more effective than jail for youths.

KristopherRocancourt1 karma

part you are missing is that for a good chunk of these people there is no "family" that cares. they are most certainly happy the kids are out of their hair and being babysat in jail so the parents can take their next hit off of the crackpipe.

Mr_Bluejay2 karma

Incorrect. I've never met a parent that doesn't love their child. They might be the worlds worst parent, but they love they're child. Helping these shitty parents to become better parents is way more effective than jail time. If parents absolutely are not putting effort forward to improve their and the child's life a proper foster family is the answer. Jailing a kid for 40 or 50 years has never made any situation better.

truffl5 karma

  • Do you think any of your patients should ever be treated (by the judicial system) as "adults" instead of as kids?

  • Do most of the kids have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder of some kind?

  • How much do you think the family of the kid has an impact on their future behaviour?

  • How did you decide to get into this line of work?

  • Do you have or want to have children?

  • What percentage of kids you see in the center do you think will eventually be "successful" (i.e. not criminals, integrate into society, etc.)?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Mr_Bluejay12 karma

1st. No mostly. If they're 17 years and 364 days old and kill someone they get trialed as a youth. That's probably the time I'm OK with it. Once they get trialed as an adult they have an adult record forever and that's wrong to me. I think we should keep the intervention as small as posible.

2nd. Almost all of them. Ranging from PTSD, FASD, Schizophrenia, and plenty of others

3rd. A HUGE impact. I can't stress enough how important the family level is to youth crime. We need way more interventions at the family level.

4th. Funny story, I flunked out of University because I didn't know what I wanted, except I knew I wanted to party. Which I did. My mom threatened to kick me out if I didn't get a real job and bang I was applying with corrections. Got hired at 19 as a guard at adult jail and after 4 months transferred to work with kids as a counselor.

5th. I'm not sure. I don't have kids, I'm only 23. I'm not sure if I want kids. Some days yes other days no.

6th. I don't know. A small number get it right before they turn 18, some when they're adults, some when they're 50 years old and have spent they're whole life in jail. The rest end up dead. Which is super sad.

Your welcome. Happy to do it.

truffl5 karma

Woo-hoo, you replied! Awesome.

Okay I don't want to monopolize your time, other people have questions, but, if you feel like it:

Follow up to 2: Do you think medication and/ or therapy have to be part of their treatment plans? Do you have any doubts about medicating kids?

Follow up to 3: Do you think, then, that the current intervention system as set up -- that is, mostly aimed at the kids themselves -- is the best design? Or do you think it would be better to redesign it to treat entire families? In an ideal world (but not TOO ideal, there's still juvenile crime in it), how would you design youth intervention treatment?


Mr_Bluejay9 karma

Yes if kids are diagnosed medicate. I'm not a doctor so I leave that to them but if the doc says the kid needs drugs I think it's a good idea. I've seen some huge turn arounds from kids just by having the right med proscribed.

I think family interventions are a wonderful idea. I thin it's important to remember residential schools destroyed a lot of lives and the kids who went to these schools often had horrible abuse inflicted upon them. This then starts a mentality where people learn that doing that is OK. The abuse cycle likely ensues and now its generation after generation of abusers. We need to break these cycles, parents love their kids but they hit, ignore, rape, prostitute, belittle, ect. because they don't know any different and they're addicted to what ever drug and so on and so on. We need to take a holistic approach to battling crime. We need to get to the root and in my opinion the root is in the trauma inflicted by bad parenting. I think this can be helped long term through programs and supports. I think taking kids away from their parents should be an absolute last resort. That almost never makes things better, and in a lot of cases makes it a trillion times worse.

tsulliski5 karma

What kind of weapons of you carry? If you were attacked, what are the ethics of defending from a child?

Mr_Bluejay15 karma

We carry no weapons. I'm a ninja lol. It's a little dicey with our use of force policy because they're kids. But the idea is we use the minimum necessary force to accomplish our goal. I am certified to use OC Spray (similar to pepper spray) however I don't carry it and the superintended of the institution needs to approve of its use before we use it, which rarely happens. I had to be sprayed to use it, and honestly that is the worst feeling of pain I've ever experienced. It's horrible, so I don't want to use it on kids so I use everything I can think of before I try to ask for spray and thus far I haven't had to use it.

oldspice755 karma

If you don't carry it for use in the moment when they're out of control, would using it be a punishment, basically?

What percentage of the kids are from First Nations?

Mr_Bluejay12 karma

No not as punishment, it would be to control a situation. Like trying to move a kid because he's losing his shit. If he has a weapon we might pepper spray to get him to drop it and comply. That would be an example, but we rarely use it.

Just guessing, between 70-95% it fluctuates but I think that's a safe guess.

Somewhatsarcastic7 karma


Mr_Bluejay20 karma

Loss of culture and colonization. We actually do some work with countries like Australia, New Zealand and the States because our Aboriginal problems all look very similar after we all treated them in similar ways. That's what it stems back to I think, if we started to rebuild that culture I think we could turn those numbers around.

Somewhatsarcastic6 karma


Mr_Bluejay13 karma

I don't worry about us replacing residential schools because instead of trying to assimilate these kids into "Canadian" culture we encourage the kids to learn about their culture, so if they're Cree we try and teach them to speak Cree or whatever it is. We have aboriginal awareness training and then all my on the job training, which is worth a lot more than a 3 day workshop. I don't know of any specific programs we got from other countries, I was just told in training that our governments communicate about these issues.

Your welcome, thanks for the insightful questions.

Somewhatsarcastic3 karma


Mr_Bluejay2 karma

I appreciate your comment. It means a lot! Thank you!

RedditRuler1015 karma

What is the worst part of your job? What was the scariest thing that happened? Thanks for the AMA!

Mr_Bluejay20 karma

Hearing abuse disclosures. When I started I worked with girls and some of the stories made me cry when I left work, made me throw up. Girls as young as 7 or 8 getting tied up in a basement and gang raped for days while being pumped full of drugs to keep her quiet. Or uncles sneaking into bedrooms and doing what they will. It's disgusting I'll always have those voices in my head, I'll always have those stories motivating me to make these kids lives better in any way I can.

iwearoddsockz3 karma

I can't even imagine the burden of these stories... I have no questions... you're doing an awesome job

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

Thank you for your comment. It's always nice to be appreciated.

KIllTheNiggerUrgent5 karma

Are there a lot of drugs available?

Mr_Bluejay7 karma

In the community yes. In the center, probably more than I know about lol. I think we do a pretty good job keeping that stuff out. We are very thorough with searches. If it gets in almost always a parent brings it in.

KIllTheNiggerUrgent2 karma

Don't you do drug testing?

Mr_Bluejay4 karma

Nope. We search the kids after visits but they sometimes find a way to get the drugs past us. We don't do any searches on parents tho.

throwaway1889994 karma

Currently have an undergrad in law and work with kids too, how does one apply for such positions if they live out of province? What's the screening process like?

Mr_Bluejay9 karma

Starts with testing, three standardized tests. One is writing and math, one is decision making, and the third is a personality test. If you pass this you move on to start touring any institution in the province you are interested in working at. Then when the facility you would like to work at is hiring you interview. If you pass the interview they offer you a spot into a 10 week unpaid training course. If you pass the course you get a job.

If your serious here's a link to the website they post the jobs at. I think one center is hiring right now.

dondean135 karma

Unpaid? That's not cool.

Steaccy4 karma

Seriously... for 10 weeks? How are you supposed to make your rent and buy food for those 2 months?

Mr_Bluejay5 karma

It's tough, the part they don't tell you is that when you start our paychecks are 2 weeks behind. So if a pay period ends on the 2nd you get paid for it on the 16th. So you do 10 weeks unpaid then you don't get paid for the first 4 weeks when you start working. It sucks really bad, and prevents some very good people from applying, which is unfortunate.

yellowedpage4 karma

Don't know if you're still around, but 1. As a child and youth care worker, it is amazing to read about a corrections worker who not only cares but is aware of the deep implications and issues Indigenous youth face daily and 2. How are you so aware of these issues? Were you trained on the job? Indigenous yourself? Personal interest? So many people working with these kids are unaware of the ramifications of residential schools, colonization, poverty, etc... and, I believe, end up harming these youth in their ignorance. Thanks for being an exception.

Mr_Bluejay15 karma

We take aboriginal awareness, and cultural awareness training but honestly the best training in this kind of thing you can get is talking to the kids. Ask them about their home, when you start hearing the same horrible stories over and over and over again you get a different perspective. I'm white, grew up in middle class neighbor hood when I started working at the youth center my world got flipped upside down. I know that there are youth care workers that don't care or are ignorant but the people I work with are good people and together we do our best to help these kids. It's a hard job and if people are doing their best to help that's all you can ask for.

I really appreciate your comment, it means a lot because of the difficulty of the job me and the people I work with do. So thank you.

heyhermano234 karma

other than parents bringing in drugs, what's the worst thing you've seen a parent do when visiting their kids?

Mr_Bluejay12 karma

Parents are usually pretty tame at visits. They know we're watching. I've seen one parent like french kissing her son which was weird we put a stop to that pretty quick. Once I saw a girl go off on her dad and started beating the shit out of him, I'm not sure what he did but part of me knew he deserved it but we stopped that to.


Manitoba... Youth counselor in a juvenile jail... Hmm Are you Steve? It's a long shot I know but I'm curious. :P

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

Nope, not a Steve.

RainbowSkull3 karma

Are the kids in your jail allowed on the internet at all? Do you think they should be?

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

No absolutely not and no way. These kids are almost all involved in gangs and letting them on the internet would give the higher ranking gang members the ability to pass information to them. Sometimes these kids have hits put out on them outside the jail and we need to keep the people outside from knowing that. Shit I don't even have internet at work.

UUnbelievable3 karma


Mr_Bluejay5 karma

We've had some ugly situations. They've got bad in terms of damage done to the facility or time and resources wasted but never out of control where we've lost a part of the jail or anything like that. Adult facilities will have more issues with riots than we do. Part of that is organizing, starting a riot is tough because staff act pretty quick so you need to have a plan that can escalate quickly, which children aren't smart enough (generally) to do.

Darken_Rahl13 karma

What is the most rewarding experience you have had so far ?

Mr_Bluejay13 karma

Probably working with the kids. Even the ones that don't stay out of the system. Most of our kids have been through horrible things, abuse, gang life, some have even killed or witnessed murder. These are horribly traumatic events and if me, and my coworkers can give them even a small time where they feel safe and can enjoy life even if it is in a jail it's rewarding.

thatboston3 karma

Have you every met anybody who made you think 'I can't help you in any way' and why was this?

Mr_Bluejay8 karma

No I think I can always help these kids. I might not be able to stop them from committing crimes. But a break and enter to steal a TV to pay for drugs is way better than a violent assault to get money for drugs. Even if I can't stop crime I can minimize it. It sounds small and it is but it's what I'm aiming for most of the time.

chechnya233 karma

Canadians are so nice, why is a jail necessary?

Mr_Bluejay10 karma

We have an ugly under world. No different than every where else. Our aboriginal population is incarcerated at similar rates to American blacks. We need to fix that. The reserves in our country are horrible and lead to things happening that would make your nightmares look like an episode of my little pony. As long as the reserves are what they are now we're gonna need jails for a while.

heyhermano235 karma

i come from a very small town in the north and my family always complains about how first nations get such great tax breaks, free housing, school etc. it's exactly that mentality that feeds the cycle of poverty, violence, and sadness. glad people like you are there to make a difference.

Mr_Bluejay8 karma

Thank you. I hope that one day we can solve this problem, or at least start solving it. We have so much in this country and yet we neglect these battered people who suffer daily. It's very sad, we intervene when in Africa people are starving. At home people have no running water, live 30 people in 3 bedroom house and can't feed themselves, and the public complains that they get free university or a tax break? It makes me sick.


Do you think young people come out in better shape than they went in initially? If you could change one aspect of the institution what would it be?

Mr_Bluejay7 karma

Yes, in the sense they're all healthier than when they come in. We feed them, they sleep, stop taking drugs and drinking, if they're prescribed meds they'll take them regularly, that kind of stuff. They're brain and how they deal with the world... some times better some times worse. Sometimes we have kids come in for property damage and when they leave they've joined a gang and are about to get initiated and stuff, so that's bad.

If I could change one thing I'd want more focus on structured learning about aboriginal culture. A huge percentage of our youth are aboriginal and I think that if they felt more connected and less ashamed of their community that would help them make better choices. I could probably write for a few hours about things I'd change tho haha.

bonkersmonkers3 karma

How did you get into this line of work?

Mr_Bluejay5 karma

Funny story, I flunked out of University because I didn't know what I wanted, except I knew I wanted to party. Which I did. My mom threatened to kick me out if I didn't get a real job and bang I was applying with corrections. Got hired at 19 as a guard at adult jail and after 4 months transferred to work with kids as a counselor. it turned out great.

bonkersmonkers3 karma

Holy shit, that's really cool. For some reason, I imagine the people in that line of work have similar stories. Like Sandy Cohen from the OC, if you're familiar. Do you think that's a fair assumption?

Mr_Bluejay3 karma

I'm not, however I googled him. I think people come to my field for all sorts of reasons and from all sorts of directions. Some people want to be cops one day and think that doing this will help them get that job, some people want to help kids and come to stay and some like me just fluke into it.

spades5933 karma

What is it like to have kids transfer out of your care and into adult facilities? Also what is the youngest patient/inmate you've encountered?

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

It's sad to see them go to adult mostly. Sometimes if they're a complete ass hole it's less sad lol, but even then it means that they're going to have an adult record which is going to make they're very difficult life even more difficult.

Youngest would be 12, that's the minimum age they can be to come into my center. Usually if they're 12 and in jail I got ALOT of work to do.

Doctah273 karma

what percentage of the kids would you say are lost causes? hopefully none. what is the treatment plan for those kids who are?

Mr_Bluejay17 karma

I've met only one who I think is a complete lost cause. Which out of the thousands that have come through my door over they years isn't to bad. The kid was a sociopath who killed someone and will kill people again. The treatment plan in the center is the same as for everyone else. I don't know what it should be; that's tough. In his defense tho he only wanted to kill child molesters so even though killing is bad if you gotta do it...

JackWilfred1 karma

When you mentioned the child molester killer, have you ever met any other kids whose crime you internally don't fully condemn?

Mr_Bluejay7 karma

I think probation in Canada is a little crazy. Lots of kids get released from custody on probation and they do well but one time they miss curfew and come back to jail. It's a new charge and they have to go through a whole new court proceedings. It's crazy. They're teenagers, they stay out pass curfew sometimes. Everyone of us would have gone to jail if our curfew would've been that strict. So I'm not a fan of that aspect of the probation program.

JackWilfred2 karma

Hm, what do you think spurred that kid to only kill molesters, was he a victim or was it just an opinion taken too far?

Mr_Bluejay5 karma

I probably can't comment any further, as per confidentiality. I hope you understand.

Stinky_WhizzleTeats3 karma

How does the Canadian prison system work? Can you give me a small summary?

Mr_Bluejay8 karma

This is a tad complicated but I'll do my best. Remember that I can only answer from the perspective of youth system because I don't work with adults.

We have no federal youth jails in Canada if a kid gets federal time (more that 2 years) the feds will pay the fees for him or her but they remain in the provincial facility. We have 4 levels of custody involvement through Justice department. Remand, Secure, Open, Community.

Remand: Waiting on charges to be dealt with in court. They can apply for bail, which isn't like adult bail, no one pays for the kid to get released they just get released on conditions if they get bail.

Secure: once they're sentenced they get put into once of the three other levels of involvement. Secure means they are in the facility all the time and no matter what they do they can't leave until their time in secure is up.

Open: They can earn supervised and in rare cases unsupervised leaves. Which means they will go do things outside the jail sometimes. Like We've had some go to school outside the facility, or maybe they'll go to an addictions program.

Community: This is when we release them into the community and they are under conditions but they don't have any direct supervision. If you break your conditions you go back to jail. This needs to be a minimum of 1/3 of their sentience.

That's it in a nut shell.

Correa243 karma

What kind of extracurricular activities can the kids do? What's greatest success story you heard that happened to one of your kids?

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

We have a one hour gym period everyday and 4 times a week they get 1 hour outside, weather permitting. In the unit they can play cards, watch TV, sometimes movies, talk with staff, play ping pong sometimes.

As far as success stories it's tough because when they leave I lose contact until/if they come back. So I wish I had a better answer for that but I don't.

oleada871 karma

Have you ever tried to maintain contact with anyone once they leave? Is that legal?

Mr_Bluejay3 karma

It's considered a conflict of interest to maintain contact with the residents when they are released. It's not illegal but it can get you trouble with our senior management team. Sometimes the kids will call the jail to talk with us once they've been released, and that's OK.

shennenali2 karma

Do the kids have homework from class and stuff? If they mess around in class what are the penalties

Mr_Bluejay4 karma

They have school work, it's not as good as a regular school. Not because of the teachers, the teachers are wonderful. It's because of institutional life, and the strict routine doesn't leave much room for creative educating.

It depends what they do, if they're just messing around in class they might get kicked out of class for a few hours, or have an early bed time. Something like that generally.

beautyof19902 karma

I know you did this AMA hours ago, but I am hoping you will respond.

I have contemplated working within the juevenile system where I live in America. I am in the process of obtaining my bachelors degree in Human Services. I want to be more so a case manager. My mom and plenty of people give me their opinion on working in the juvenile court system, it is one of negativity. As a young woman who is also not big and buff would you also try to persuade me not to work with jueveniles? My mom tells me they are violent and I may end update being a target. I don't necessarily believe I will be a target. My concern is pretty much being laughed at by other people who would see me as a young, small woman who wouldn't last a day working in this field.

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

Poppycock! That's crap. Women can do it. We always need more women. Often our kids have very low opinions of women, they need to see a strong smart women. It helps them see women as people, as fucked up as that sounds. Also it's important for young girls to see women who are strong and smart, they need role models. Is the job harder? I don't think so. You need to be kind and earn trust just like the men and they will respect you then. I've seen kids stand up for women staff before and defend them like they're a mother to them. Protecting the women from other residents it's impressive. It's hard work and you can't unsee some things, but if you know what you're getting into and still want to do it, I say go for it.

beautyof19902 karma

Thanks for responding. I felt better after reading what you said. I definitely am still considering the idea of it. As a case manager I can pretty much work anywhere where a case manager is needed. I have always worked with children and would prefer it over adults. I feel like I can have a greater impact on a child than an adult. I would feel a sense of an accomplishment to see that I have impacted their life in a positive way.

I have also considered working within the mental health field, but working with anyone for that matter there are those cases.

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

If it's what you want to do I'm sure you can do it! It's tough work but it's worth it most days.

FreeOnes_Petra2 karma

I'm a female that worked at a youth program (alternative to juvenile for a lot of kids). Specifically, the facility was all girls and I was both what amounted to a corrections officer and also did a stint as a case manager.

Your mom is right. You can become a target. But ANYONE can be a target at a juvenile facility from CO to the head supervisor or of any sex. I've seen some male COs get their asses handed to them by the girls.

In the 5 years I worked at the facilities I had been through 3 riots, a load of runaways (chasing them through the florida wilderness even), breaking up fights between the kids, had a couple try to jump me and so on. The worst thing that happened was getting my thigh bitten up (we wore shorts since it was outdoors and in florida) by a girl who was refusing her meds and was going through a psychotic episode. I also had someone rip a necklace from around my neck that kind of hurt...

So if this is something you want to do, go for it. It IS rewarding. Also, something I found out is boys are more likely to respect you as a female than girls are. Girls tend to be sweeter to the male staff.

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

Ya it's funny I noticed similar patterns, with girls liking male staff. I heard a disturbing theory once about that, the girls view that men only want them for sex, so by picking which male staff they cling to they feel that it gives them some control of who will abuse them; even if the staff never will abuse them. Their world has been so dominated by abuse that having this little bit of control gives them comfort. I don't know what proof there is to support it but after I heard it I started watching my girls and it made some sense.

spadinskiz2 karma

I got arrested a couple years ago for marijuana possession at school (yeah I know, I'm retarded) and I had to go to a couple of things for like five hours each where me and my parents had to talk to juvenile counselors. It seemed like all those people were major assholes, but I realize now that they were just trying to scare the kids there out of crime. Thanks for what you do, even if your job doesn't encompass such acts as those!

Mr_Bluejay2 karma

I hate "scare straight" programs. They have negative effects more often than not and honestly I'm not sure why it's not considered psychological torture. I'm sorry to hear that's what you went through. I appreciate your comment.

Zayark2 karma


Mr_Bluejay5 karma

Funniest was a time when a kid inserted a mini bottle of tooth paste in his bum and got it stuck. He ended up having to go to the hospital. When we asked what happened he said he "fell on it". It was priceless.

Worst would be dealing with abuse disclosures. I think I talked about it earlier.

Hearing abuse disclosures. When I started I worked with girls and some of the stories made me cry when I left work, made me throw up. Girls as young as 7 or 8 getting tied up in a basement and gang raped for days while being pumped full of drugs to keep her quiet. Or uncles sneaking into bedrooms and doing what they will. It's disgusting I'll always have those voices in my head, I'll always have those stories motivating me to make these kids lives better in any way I can.

As far as changing jobs, yes. I'm currently working towards being a teacher. I would like to work with younger kids and I want to work in community.

Autoloader2 karma

Have you ever had a incredibly smart or genius offender? How were they?

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

No, I can't think of any. However most of my kids have incredible survival skills. They live in conditions that are similar to a war zone and they live. If there ever is a zombocalypse I'm going to be looking for advice from them.

[deleted]1 karma


Mr_Bluejay7 karma

We've had some super crazy freak outs. Once a kid who was in a fully psychotic state was freaking out. He was trying to kill himself by lying on his back an throwing up essentially drowning in the vomit. It took 3 grown men, large grown men to control him. We brought him to the hospital to try and get him admitted to a psych ward, we fought with him for like 6 hours before they admitted him. Then they gave him a needle and he was calm in like 10 minutes. It was a tad irritating.

[deleted]1 karma


Mr_Bluejay5 karma

It's rewarding but it's very stressful and you can't unsee some things. I suffer from the trauma I've experienced in that place. If she wants to do I encourage her to go for it, but know what you're signing up for.

Yogozyup1 karma

What are the ages of the youngest kids there? An where in canada is this prison?

Mr_Bluejay2 karma

Youngest we take is 12 years old. I'm not releasing what prison I work at. Sorry.

support_the_surreal1 karma

I'm extremely interested in prison reform and counseling. What is the best route to get a counseling position? Is it best to pursue school to be qualified or try to get hands on experience in a prison setting?

Also it is very frustrating to see that my choice in career doesn't have a lot of prospects. Any tips to try and fill the limited spaces available?

Edit: I'm in the US.

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

It's tough because we live in different countries that have different systems right? I'd say get a criminology degree, that will help. Then while you are waiting try volunteering, lots of centers where I live will have volunteers come in to help with programs and stuff, look into that. Try to find out what your local issues are, what are the things that are happening that law enforcement is focusing on, and what programs are they doing. Then when you interview talk about your experience with those issues that should help you. Hope this helps!

KristopherRocancourt1 karma

are you one of the MANY Canadians that think the Youth Criminal Justice Act [teens get out of any real trouble free card] should be abolished?

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

No fucking way. Revised maybe, abolished absolutely not. We need to protect these kids not destroy their lives by putting their pictures out in the world to see or putting them sex offender lists.

KristopherRocancourt1 karma

what is your opinion of kids "knowing the system" and playing it to their advantage, hiding behind it.?

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

It happens, kind of. You always have to remember to step back and see the forest from the trees when asking a question like this. These are kids remember, unfortunately they are involved with gangs and the gangs are the ones who use the kids like pawns to do things while they are young. Gangs are the issue with manipulating the system. The kids usually don't figure out the hiding in the system until they're an adult and then they use a kid to do they're dirty work. It's a cycle.

Atimus2031 karma

Good AMA I been trying to get a jj job for 2 years in Chicago. The Juvenile Temporary Detention Center here is huge, the counselors do the same thing you do, but they also have rapid response guards circulating the wings who could arrive within two minutes. My question is what do you do when the kids get under your skin

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

This is an ever evolving answer because I'm always looking for healthy stress releases. My current arsenal includes, I play on a dodge ball team, when I leave work I play country music super loud in my car and sing as loud as I can, I like to get together with friends who I don't work with and talk about good things and laugh, I spend time with my family my mom has a way of making me feel better no matter what.

It's important for me to have a routine for leaving work because it tells my brain that work is over, stop thinking about it. So that's why singing in the car helps, it is my work is over trigger. Also it is super fun. Exercise helps with dealing with stress, that's why I play dodge ball.

When I'm at work and having a rough day, staff all know the feeling so if you ask for 20 minutes to clear your head more often then not they'll give it to you. I'll walk out side or if it's really bad I'll crack and have a cigarette.

vault20081 karma

What's the worst thing you've ever seen in there? Has a kid ever killed another kid?

Mr_Bluejay6 karma

Not while I've been there. Almost tho, kid made a shank and came up behind another kid and tried to stab him in the throat. The handle of the shank slid up the blade and basically blocked him from going very deep with the stab. We got lucky that time.

iambluest1 karma

What training did you get in order too counsel these kids? How detailed are the treatment plans for your students? What sorts of professional supports do you have access to? Who is responsible for making decisions around the students mental health interventions?

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

We have a 10 week training before you start working. I've taken a class of "Impact of Abuse and Neglect" course and a "Trauma Informed Care" course along with plenty of other training. Our plans touch all aspects of there life when released. We have Psychiatrists and Psychologists and quite a few mental health nurses. That team called our mental health team make decisions regarding the meds and diagnosis.

foldgold1 karma

Firstly thank you for doing this! How did you get into this line of work? How can I? How can I convince my family it is legitimate work?

Mr_Bluejay1 karma

I got into by accident. I was just looking for a job and kinda fell into it. It was a huge blessing because I found learned that I enjoy working with kids and it helped give direction to my life. If you want to do this work go to college or uni and get a degree, volunteer at jails or get a job at a group home. As far as convincing your family, if they don't see helping people as legitimate work ask them how they feel about every single charity on earth that aims to help people. That's what I do, I help people. If someone doesn't think it's legitimate work then they don't understand the world.

Nuisancho1 karma

What was the most challenging case you've had besides the one that was "too far gone"? What is the biggest turnaround you have seen from one of your previous offenders? Do released offenders ever contact you to thank you?

Interesting AMA thanks!

Mr_Bluejay7 karma

A lot of the mental health residents are tough, especially FASD residents. FASD is complicated because not everyone has the facial characteristics associated with the disease. There is a diagnosis that falls under FASD called Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which is a little misleading because it is the same as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis but without the facial characteristics. So at first when we're dealing with the kid he might be struggling and we don't know why, then eventually (hopefully sooner than latter) we make a referral for an FASD assessment and all of a sudden we understand them better and it gives us a better idea how to help them.

Shout out to our FASD program who do amazing work. They help these kids more than anyone on earth. They work so hard and the kids really reap the benefits. They are great people.

Usually those are the biggest turn around because they go from problem kid to a misunderstood child who when they get proper help can do quite well. Kids do call back to the jail to check in and tell us how good they're doing. We don't give out personal info though.

Salicylic1 karma

What are your thoughts on the Ashley Smith incident?

Mr_Bluejay3 karma

I'm not familiar with the details of the incident but I know the jist of it. We had two girls die in 2010 by way of suicide. It's horrible. It's hard for everyone, staff and kids. As for how it happens, we have strict rules for how we monitor kids on suicide watch the hard part is figuring the risk out, although since the suicides we've got much better. Stopping people from killing themselves when they want to die is very hard. I've personally found someone who was hanging, I found her hanging from a shower head and held her up as she was hitting me and screaming at me while I waited for help. It's a battle we fight everyday.

KameraadLenin-3 karma

Stopping people from killing themselves when they want to die is very hard.

I think in this case it was proven it would have been pretty easy to stop her from dying, since they could plainly see her dying there, and no one did anything.

I think the scope of your answer is a little shallow, the standard cop out of "o well it's so hard what they do."

Here's a different question, how do you feel about the order prohibiting the prison staff from entering her cell during her ordeal?

As a side note, the fact that your facility had two girls kill themselves in 2010 is a disgusting indictment of the issues surrounding the youth justice system.

Mr_Bluejay10 karma

Well again like I said I don't know the details of the case, however I've dealt with A LOT of this issue and if you call it "the standard cop out" I dare you to do what we do. It is hard, have you ever lifted a girl up to open her airway when she's tried to hang herself as she hits you and swears and yells to just let her die? Because I have. Your asking complicated questions and the answers are difficult to hear. I wish we could save every single kid; we try very hard and spend a lot of money to do that but it is a hard job.

I don't know why an order like that would be in place, did she have a weapon? Is she historically violent? I don't know the details so I can't comment.

Ya it is a sad fact that we deal with damaged kids but the youth justice system isn't the only system that this should be crucified for this. How about Child and Family Services that take kids away from there parents and move them group home to group home for years before we get the kid causing trust issues and depression? How about the failures of the past which caused the parents to be damaged, how about the probation order that causes kids to be in jail constantly, how about education system that makes kids feel not good enough and push them into gangs that get them into trouble in the first place. This is an issue that needs a HOLISTIC answer. We need to approach it from all angles, we need to attack the issue from the root.

Corrections staff around the country do a very good job every day that you don't hear about something bad happening. We deal with issues every day and the fact that you don't happen doesn't mean it didn't happen, it means we did a good job. Please don't attack the staff that work within policies, attack bad policies. Talk with your elected representative and tell them you want better for these kids.

KameraadLenin-5 karma

I get it, it's a tough a job, with a strong emotional toll.

You know what though? That isn't a good enough answer for me when the death of a child is involved.

Salicylic asked you what your thoughts were on the Ashley Smith incident, and you gave him the, yes, standard "cop-out" misguided argument your hear so many people use in this sort of situation.

A cop shoots a mentally disabled teenager on a Toronto bus? "oh well you don't understand how hard it is to be a cop." Literally a LITTLE GIRL kills herself in front of prison staff who do nothing? "oh well their job so hard you shouldn't judge you should go talk to your MP"

That argument just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

Talk with your elected representative and tell them you want better for these kids.

I have a really hard time believing it was an elected policy maker who told prison staff not to go check on a girl with a noose around her kneck.

edit: I should point out i'm not trying to grill you for something you have nothing to do with at all. I just feel like the idea that we can dismiss some of the atrocities that go one as "their job is hard" is so wrong.

Mr_Bluejay8 karma

I come back to

I dare you to do what we do

I agree it wasn't an elected official who told staff not to go in but it's there policies that put kids there. How about we stop kids being in jail and then we don't have this argument. We've put kids in jails for years and years and it's only getting worse. Attack the real problem.

Ya a girl died and that's very sad. I know when our kids died our staff felt it. My heart sinks every time I hear about an attempt at our building. We feel bad when bad things happen, we build relationships with these kids that goes both ways. It hurts me when things like this happen and we try with every ounce we have to stop things like this. One of suicide's the girl was checked 7 minutes apart. In 7 minutes she went from alive to dead. I deal with 30 kids all being watched by me alone, and if I leave one unattended for 7 minutes they could be dead.

I dare you to do what we do

iia-2 karma

Do you think being more mature would get you a higher position in the jail?

Mr_Bluejay9 karma

I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you mean with the staff or with the other residents?