Cherie Livett Bombell

Kids Behind Bars, Geneva Illinois


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Geneva consisted of 12 cottages and an administration building circling the property. Inside the circle were ancillary buildings – laundry, kitchen, infirmary, chapel. A guard station checked everyone entering and exiting while barbed wire-topped fences deterred exit.

On the outskirts of the buildings but inside the fence was a graveyard where still born children of inmates were buried. Rumor had it that inmates were also buried there if their families couldn’t afford a funeral. continue reading…

The institution, Illinois State Training School for Girls, Illinois Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division at Geneva, we abbreviated in conversation to ‘Geneva’. Named after the quaint town on the Fox River straight down Roosevelt Avenue about 40 miles west of Chicago, the venue was beautiful but isolated. Few inmates’ families had transportation to visit their children so were separated for months. My first job was as a cottage supervisor in a medium security building for females. continue reading…

1970 and I’m on my way to Chicago having just graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Little did I know that destiny was taking me towards my real education.

I landed a job with Illinois Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division at a ‘reform school’ in Geneva Illinois – Illinois State Training School for Girls. There I was to meet young offenders that would open my heart and change my perspective on the world. continue reading…

Exploring the life lessons taught to me by kids from the ghetto that were incarcerated at Illinois State Training School for Girls (later called Illinois State Training School after males were sentenced there). You’re welcome to share the journey with me and I’d love to hear your comments.

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