“It’s complicated. There’s a lot of emotional baggage tied to [sharing this story], and to this point, that hasn’t gone away... Other advocates that I’ve met that have been doing this for many years say that it doesn’t go away. So, it’s emotionally draining, but it’s also uplifting in the sense that I feel like I’m doing some good for others that are in the situation that I was in as a child… Our ultimate goal is that we can provide an intervention for young people that come into the justice system, instead of just treating them like adults and sending them away for the rest of their lives, or for a large chunk of their lives.”
Billy Harris is a 46 year-old man who works for a nonprofit organization in St. Louis. When he was 16 years old, he was certified as an adult and sentenced to 30 years in prison for second degree murder. In this interview, Billy talks about his experiences as a boy growing up in a country town in South Carolina, as a youth who spent his formative years in detention centers and prisons with grown men, and as a man who returned to the community after a significant - and crucial - period of time, having been locked up from 1987 to 2002.