When I first explained the project, Jennifer teared up and told me that she couldn’t believe I stopped to ask about her life, because no one had ever done that before. She proceeded to share the experience of her childhood in the DFCS system in Atlanta, GA.
Jennifer: I went into DFCS custody when I was five and I didn’t get out until a few days before my 18th birthday. I was in a number of DFCS facilities. I was literally raised by the state. When they released me from custody, they put me in handcuffs and called the police. They put me in the back of the police car and took me to Georgia Regional.
Jennifer: I became defiant. I was over DFCS. I was pissed off because they would never get punished for the stuff they did to us and those people did a lot of stuff to those kids. At the end of the day these kids are still human beings. 90% of the time, kids in DFCS facilities are ignored. They don’t have foster families or any family at all. I was one of them.
Growing up as a kid sometimes you would get into fights here and there. Well if two kids got in a fight while they were in a DFCS facility, they get abused all over again. They’re restrained by four or five heavy-set adults. Sometimes they would be put into safety coats which were like full body straight jackets. Most of the time they’re tied to beds by nonambulatory restraints. There are restraints on both ankles, on both wrists, and across the waist. Once they restrained you they would inject you in the buttocks with either Thorazine or Vistaril. If you’re too out of control then they give you a high dosage and you’ll be knocked out within 10-15 minutes.
Once you wake up, you have to be quiet for a certain amount of time in regards to the restraints coming off. After you’re quiet for that specific amount of time, they only unlock one of your wrist restraints. Then you have to wait 15 to 30 more minutes for them to take off the second restraint, which would be one of the ankle restraints. This would continue in 15 to 30 minute intervals. Sometimes they’d take all of them off the third time, but sometimes they would be assholes and they’d make you wait another 30 minutes.
After you come off that bed you would have to go into what they called a behavior control room, which was worse than a jail cell. There are concrete walls and a hole in the concrete floor. It is completely empty. They feed you through the door and you have to eat with your hands because you aren’t allowed any silverware. Sometimes if they felt a child was just out of control verbally, they would make the child drink the Vistaril or Thorazine.
It’s abuse.. What if a parent did that to their child inside of a home? They’d be locked up.