Teens spend Christmas behind bars

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – While his friends are asking for iPods, video games and other gifts for Christmas, 15-year-old Malcom has a different request – freedom.
Malcom is an inmate at the Lee County Juvenile Detention Center. Because he is a juvenile, his last name cannot be used. Along with several others, Malcom may spend this Christmas holiday locked up away from family, friends and holiday cheer.
“Christmas is the only time I get to see my biological mom and my brothers and sisters,” said the soft-spoken teen, who was jailed for stealing a pit bull. “I see them only once a year and now I won’t be able to this year. That is what I’m going to miss the most and I can’t get that back.”
While their friends are at the mall shopping for designer clothes, the inmates at the Juvenile Center are stuck in their small cells, wearing their yellow jumpsuits, black-strapped shoes and shiny wrist and leg shackles.
Like Malcom, three others – Anna, Marcus and Latasha – all have simple Christmas wishes.
Anna, 13, was arrested for violating her parole. The oldest of three, she said seeing her siblings’ faces on Christmas morning would be all she would need to make her holiday complete.
“I always love to see their faces when they open their gifts and stuff,” said Anna. “I miss them, I miss my parents and being in here makes it harder. Being with my family would be better than any gift I’ve ever gotten.”
Latasha, 17, also will miss seeing her younger siblings enjoy the holidays.
“I don’t care about anything else, but I miss them and especially this time of year,” she said.
Marcus, 15, said his Christmas wish would be for his mother to forgive him for hitting her, which is what landed him in jail.
“I want to get out for Christmas, but not to get gifts or anything but to tell my mother I’m sorry and I love her,” said Marcus. “If she accepts my apology that would be the best gift for me. I just want to say I’m sorry.”
For those who aren’t lucky enough to be released before Christmas, Capt. Ronnie Partlow said it will be business as usual.
There will be “no special treatment for those who will be in here,” he said. “No Santa, no gifts. That’s a part of the punishment for having to be here. Hopefully this is a feeling they won’t want to have next Christmas and they won’t come back here.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.