The blog gives students access to their essays, poetry and stories long after they leave CVYS, Pilkington said. On this day, Pilkington’s classroom is primarily an audience of young boys, all clad in neon-orange jumpers, a reminder that this is no ordinary school.
Although Pilkington has worked with several young people that came from “good homes,” the majority of her students have extensive histories of abuse and neglect, she said. David Inocencio, co-founder and director of The Beat Within, a San Francisco-based magazine that features essays and stories written by juvenile detainees, says creative writing can definitely be a therapeutic process for young people in the nation’s juvenile justice system. Making writing a habit for young people, Inocencio stated, is a tremendous platform for young people to express themselves and air their concerns about the environments they inhabit.
Inocencio said writing programs like The Beat Within allow a population without a voice to speak up. The benefits of implementing creative writing programs in juvenile detention facilities are apparent, Inocencio said.
Creative writing not only changes a young person’s conceptualization of self, but also alters his or her life goals, Inocencio believes. Pilkington says many of her students ask her if their blog entries have received any additional comments from website visitors.
The Writers on the Inside entries consist primarily of in-class assignments, which, once redacted, are uploaded to the blog. She said many times, her students just want someone to know what’s happened to them -- to have someone believe their accounts. In one essay, titled “This is My Life,” one of Pilkington’s students reflects upon a long history of abuse suffered at the hands of her parents. Pilkington said although many of her students write about their own experiences, an equal number would prefer writing about more fantastical subjects. One of her students wrote of a fictitious inmate receiving a lethal injection, while others wrote about high school baseball stardom, earning their driver’s licenses and going fishing with explosives.

Pilkington said she was initially surprised the CVYS administration wanted to start the program -- an idea she said was green-lit following an informal parking lot conversation. At the facility, Pilkington said some of her students have to write their essays using felt tip markers. Her students’ desire to write, even when having to resort to unconventional implements, demonstrates an emotional need to get their stories out, she believes. Pilkington said her intent with the blog is multifaceted, but at the end of the day, she just wants visitors to realize many of her pupils have a knack for the written word.
I find the work to be not only helpful to the teens but also inspiring to the work I do writing for teens. Easing Drug Laws the Answer to the Nation’s Drug, Prison Problem – Or Precursor to More Crime? Check out JJIE's latest story series covering the persistent problem of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. NEW YORK — The 14-year-old boy sat on the stoop of Hookah Stop in the Bronx, blood pouring from his chest and filling his lungs, and thought: This is what it’s like to die. Continue to visit our Facebook page for resources and supports to increase education on Life with a Mental Illness and ways to increase health and wellness.  There are daily ways to increase health and wellness and reduce stress, mark your calendar with these great tips!
For the last six, she’s been an English instructor at Coosa Valley Youth Services (CVYS), a facility for juvenile offenders in this northeast Alabama city tucked in the foothills of the Appalachians.
She carries a chemical restraint canister at her hip, and a personal alarm is tethered to her keychain.
Proponents of such programs believe not only can creative writing play a huge role in the rehabilitation of young offenders; they additionally serve as opportunities to instill both a sense of empowerment and consistency to a juvenile population frequently considered downtrodden and unstable.
For the last 17 years, he’s held writing workshops inside juvenile halls across California. The effects, he believes, also prove positive for adults within the juvenile justice field, as it gives attorneys, service workers and judges greater insight into the lives of young offenders.

The theme of guilt and punishment is common, even when the young writers dwell upon made-up worlds. Moments before 11 o’clock Saturday night, the boy, Javier Payne, had been smashed through the store’s plate glass window by a police officer who had stopped him after an altercation with a man on the street, witnesses said. But attention here to sex trafficking has slowly increased in recent years with the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and other federal state laws. Novels penned by John Steinbeck and Harper Lee are stacked over a U-shaped row of cubicles. Still, through six years at CVYS, she said she’s never had to use the chemical restraint, and used the alarm only once -- when one of her students experienced a seizure in class. Currently, The Beat Within personnel serve more than 5,000 young people in California, and conduct multiple workshops across the nation, including programs in Arizona, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Additional safeguards ensure blog visitors cannot contact students, and students are not allowed to respond to comments posted on their entries. The walls are lined with laminated posters; crayon-colored cutouts of chubby red robins and lime-green pigs are pasted on the room’s sole window.
One of Pilkington’s greatest concerns is that individuals involved in some of her students’ charges may leave hateful or intimidating messages on the blog. She remedies this by setting the blog so all comments have to be pre-approved by her before being visible to visitors to the site.

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