There is an honor system in JDC, whereas when you are a new guest, you walk in with orange status( not many privliges), you are able to earn our way up the chain by good behavior, helping when asked, and overall pleasant attitude. The kids are able to work up to dark blue status ( more privliges, picking activities etc) which takes the kids a while and means that they have earned it because it is not easy. You may reach the dark blue level, but there are mishaps that may bring you back down to a lesser level such as room grades, behavior, etc. There are many kids who achieve but cannot attain dark blue-- it's hard you have to obey the rules and not get aggitated into bad behavior by others. For all intenseive purposes, rules are being put on kids who generally have not had any, so a boundary for them is very hard to understand much less maintain. But when understood, Saucha, clean lines and boundaries are a helpful and necessary part of life. I use this teaching a lot in the themes because reinforcement of good behavior is very powerful for these kids. Most times they have been crushed emotionally and really have not feeling one way or another about how good or bad behavior effects themselves as well as others.
Which brings me to the cream of the crop "Honor Status", this is the holy grail of status in JDC, this status is the highest you can attain and you pretty much get to do whatever you want (in reason). You get to watch TV, you get to have a radio in your cell, you get to pick whatever activity you would like or not like to do. It is the ultimate in freedom. Kids who have achieved this level understand why they are in JDC, and have stopped fighting against themselves and everyone else. They are peaceful and accepting of responsiblity-- these are changed kids-- I would venture to say they have found the solice in the boundary. Most times they are kids who have been in JDC for a long period of time. Honor Status is not important to reach it's important to maintain. Because of life circumstances, it's easier to stay out of control than to maintain saucha-- a taste of freedom can be a very poison drink and one that brings about fear in many kids. You see, once the kids understand they have freedom, something good in their lives, they get scared of losing it so they self sabotage-- it has become easier to be in trouble.
One of the yoga boys has acheived this status and wears it proudly around the jail. He ran up to me to show me his shirt that says Honor Status, and he has maintained this status for a really long time. He is changed from the first time I met him, which was the first day I arrived to teach at JDC-- he was out of control, and he is a physically strong kid, let's just say he was in trouble a lot. I have had the opportunity to watch this magical transformation first hand, week by week and he has learned the value of saucha. At yoga yesterday, he wanted to talk to me after class, he is leaving JDC Monday and going home, changed for the better. He talked to me for the first time with soft eyes and a soft heart, he shared with me how proud he is of himself and how yoga helped him reclaim himself. He told me that he understands now that his actions were his actions, and not who he really is and that he finally feels ok to be the "goodness inside". He told me that he can't wait to get out and delete the contacts from his phone because he knows that they are not people he wants to surround himself with, he said "the energy thing, that makes sense to me Jen, and I don't want anyones negativity to ruin my prana." I asked what his plans are, and he said that he is going to his grandparents ranch to work because he knows that hard work is how you get ahead. After a long silence, he looked up at me and said my parents came to visit me last week for the first time, and even after all this they told me we'll pick you up from Jail, but then we're done with you, we can't be here for you. My heart sank to the floor, this boy has taken over a year to change himself, and his parents who should be his biggest advocates, parents who have not even seen him for over a year told him they are through-- are you kidding me? He saw my face, he knew what I was going to say, and he said, you know I'm ok with that, they are not people who are going to bring me up, they are not people who want what's best for me, they are people who are jealous at what I've become, they are afraid. Wow, I was speachless, this boy, my teacher reminded me that we all come from good, no matter what happens we must see the good in others in order to see it in ourselves. This sweet boy, who Monday walks into the world a changed man, begins his life of Honor Status--