The inmates were only a few years younger than me. Most were smart though not well educated; most came from inner city Chicago – ‘the ghetto’. Most were born into poverty and I into security.

Some of the guys with their supervisor and me.

They’re black; I’m white. My color and social standing bestowed ‘privilege’ on me – a valuable commodity that those kids didn’t have access to.

The lack of privilege and justice was glaringly obvious one night when my roommates and I had two of the higher officials from the Juvenile Division of Dept of Corrections for dinner. My roommate’s stepfather was one of those men and she’d invited them for a meal while they were in Chicago on business from Springfield. After dinner, the other man (I think he was second in charge of the juvenile division but my memory isn’t positive) reached into the inside pocket of his expensive tan sports coat and pulled out a nickel bag. He proceeded to roll a joint for dessert! At the time, I had a young man locked up after being busted when he dropped one joint at the L.

I’d like to tell you that, in an outrage, I told the man off, grabbed his nickel bag and demanded he leave my home (or, better yet, I called the cops). Unfortunately, in my youth I didn’t have the confidence or presence of mind to do that. I did leave the table and walked out of my apartment while they filled my kitchen with smells of the weed that had put many others, those not born to privilege, behind bars.