Dallas, TX (PRWEB) January 26, 2007
Where do teenagers learn the ins and outs of becoming a career criminal? Within the walls of our own criminal justice system. By warehousing juvenile offenders in adult prisons, have we created a recipe for rehabilitation or one for manufacturing hardened criminals?
Juveniles charged with adult crimes include some of the most vulnerable teenagers in the country--more often than not, these minors are victims of abuse and neglect. Yet, the criminal justice system sentences youthful offenders to violent, gang-run adult prisons where they suffer more abuse. And so, the cycle continues.
Given the unspeakable abuse children suffer every day in this country, it is little wonder that so many of them run away to escape such cruelty. According to the National Runaway Switchboard, in every classroom of 35 kids, seven will run away before they are 18. In the US there are more than 1 million homeless minors living on the streets, and this number will double in the next 10 years.
In order to survive, these street kids are forced to sell drugs, steal, and even prostitute themselves for money. For Raymond E. Lumsden, author of the new non-fiction book, Stronger by the Day, his path to committing acts of theft in order to eat landed him in and out of juvenile courts and facilities, and ultimately into an adult maximum security prison where he witnessed rape, beatings, shank fights, and other acts of prison violence.
"Burns, drowning, strangulation, and abandonment are what my siblings and I faced growing up with our alcoholic step-father. Then one day my brother and I stood in the driveway and watched as our parents moved out of state with our little sister. The abuse ended, and our lives on the streets began," says Ray, who has chronicled his day-to-day fight for survival at the age of 16 living among the adult population in St. Cloud--Minnesota's toughest prison.
According to a Justice Department study:
- The number of youths under 18 confined to adult prisons has more than doubled in the past decade.
- Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 44 house juveniles in adult jails and prisons. Only 18 of those 44 maintain housing units designated for minors.
- The suicide rate of juveniles in adult prisons is 7.7 times higher than that of minors in juvenile detention centers.
"I attempted suicide three times; the last time was just over a year ago. That experience transformed me, and compelled me to write Stronger by the Day, and the screenplay of the same title. I now want to help kids who are growing up like I did. If we don't protect kids from abuse then we are sentencing them to a lifetime of despair," warns Ray.
Stronger by the Day demonstrates how the hopelessness experienced by runaway kids leads them to commit petty crimes, and what occurs when they are locked away and treated like common criminals.
(Stronger by the Day by Raymond E. Lumsden; ISBN 978-0-9790628-0-3 / 0-9790628-0-2; $16.95; soft cover; 5½ x 8½; 296 pages; Lighthouse Publishing)
(Back Cover Copy)
A STORY OF COURAGE AND REDEMPTION
Hands scalded in a pot of boiling water, abandoned by his parents, sexually molested by a neighbor, then sentenced and convicted as a juvenile to a maximum security prison--that is how Ray Lumsden spent the first 19-years of his life.
As it would turn out, the survival techniques he learned on the streets with his brother would help prepare 16-year-old Ray Lumsden for what he would have to endure in prison dealing with adult inmates, rapists, murderers, hardened criminals and gang members.
Life out of prison does not prove to be any easier for Ray, who as a young adult, soon learns the answer to the question: does an ex-con ever serve enough time, and can he ever be fully accepted back into society again?
Living a life filled with the mixed emotions of shame, guilt and fear, Ray made three attempts on taking his own life, the last of which completely transforming his direction in life and made him determined to help kids at risk, like him.
"One of the most difficult things a victim of child abuse must face is the guilt and shame. Ray has courageously come out from behind his walls to let everyone see that abuse robs a child of a real chance at life." - Amber Ellis, Alta Fay's Allegiance, Running Mad
"Ray candidly reveals a life filled with more pain than any child should ever have to endure. By showing us his emotional scars he is giving hope to millions of other kids who go to bed hungry and those who must walk into a classroom and lie about where they got the bruises." - Marie Gilles, Domestic Violence: My Story
"This book is an important wake up call to everyone in our society who has dealings with a child, either as a parent, caregiver, or educator. Ray Lumsden's story not only deals with the plight of abused children, but also the issue of juveniles charged and convicted as adults." - Marlin Keesler, Our Life on the Run: A Story of running 50 marathons in 50 states: A family Quest
About the Author
Raymond E. Lumsden is a successful mortgage broker in Texas. He is also a Pastor and an active counselor in the youth Prison Ministries. Lumsden is passionate about making the public aware of issues facing children at risk. This is the author's first book, with more in the works. Lumsden has also adapted the book to a screenplay of the same name, which is currently being optioned.