Cherie Livett Bombell

Kids Behind Bars, Geneva Illinois

Browsing Posts tagged Geneva Illinois

Tweet Brenda and I will be visiting the site of the former Geneva Girls School in August 2012. If you’d like to join us, please contact me via ‘Contact Me’ on this site. We’ll spend some time at the cemetery and pay our respects to the children buried there as well as those that spent […]

Tweet Savage. His name was on my mind when I woke up this morning. Savage was the nick name of a young Puerto Rican man on Wallace Cottage. He was a born leader. He had poise and an air of authority that the other young men respected and looked to for direction. It eked out […]

Tweet This is how I remember Illinois State Training School for Girls, Geneva, Illinois. I used to park my car in the lot just opposite the guard station then walk through the middle of the grounds to Geneva Cottage or to Oak and Wallace Cottage on the right (just out of the picture). The cemetery […]

Tweet The following information and photograph was kindly provided by the Geneva History Center. “Beginning July 23, 2011, the Geneva History Center museum will host Who Was Sadie Cooksey?, a photographic traveling exhibition developed by Maine photographer Maggie Foskett. The genesis of this exhibition reaches back to 1979, when Foskett stumbled onto an isolated cemetery […]

Tweet In July, the Geneva History Center will host an exhibition titled Who Was Sadie Cooksey?. This is a traveling photo exhibition developed by Maine photographer, Maggie Foskett. With the genesis in 1979 when Ms Foskett took pictures of the cemetery at Geneva Training School, the exhibition focuses on a single individual whose tombstone caught […]

Tweet I recently read Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson. It helped me to make sense of an incident that happened at Geneva in the 70s – one that has haunted me since. A man that worked on Wallace Cottage sometimes made bad decisions. I’m going to call him Mr Jay. He played […]

Mike said when he was first locked up at 13 he was sent to the Reception Center at Joliet. There he was sexually assaulted by a guard that made Mike preform oral sex on him. This abuse he kept totally to himself, trusting no one as the horror replayed in a continuous loop in his mind for eight years. Mike was locked up at that young age to be ‘rehabilitated’ for being ungovernable (truancy) and deceptive practices. The judge probably thought his would help him ‘straighten out’. His mother must felt relief that her son would get the help he needed to settle down and attend school. Everyone’s trust was betrayed but not so much as Mike’s. His world was forever haunted by the horrors of this pedophile’s abuse.

A new reader to this site has taken some pictures of the cemetery in Fox Run, Geneva Illinois. Except for this cemetery, there is no visual evidence that Illinois Youth Center at Geneva ever existed in Geneva or that hundreds of children, young men and women spent years behind bars at the facility.

I don’t remember my response to Mike but I’ve never been able to answer those questions to my own satisfaction. Did I unfairly impose my values on him? Did I use my influence and power in my role to create an unrealistic expectation that would only lead to disappointment and self-loathing? Did I make his life harder to live? As professionals in the ‘helping’ careers, where do we draw the line when we have influence and power over others? Do we use a Christian ethos as an excuse to convince ourselves that we must ‘save’ others that are less fortunate? After 40 years, I still can’t find an answer that I’m certain is totally, morally true for me.

Aerial view of Illinois State Training School, Geneva, Illinois 1974

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