Tri-Valley Herald Article Summary: Locked-Up Potential

Essay by EJY345High School, 12th grade March 2006

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The article "Locked Up Potential" provides not only a glimpse into the horrific treatment of youth in California's prisons, but an optimistic outlook for the rehabilitation of prison youth; it does this with the story of Jacquinn Scales and his mentor Muhammad, a man who epitomizes what's good about humanity through his unselfish, caring actions. Jacquinn Scales entered "the system," jail, when he was only 16-years-old and often "spent months locked down 23 hours a day." The article also describes that many young people, once they leave California's jail system (the most violent in the nation), experience post traumatic stress disorder. The "recidivism rate is 75 percent," as well. Muhammad, a Muslim minister, believes that "these are young people with unlimited potential and innate greatness"; thus, he mentors and works with youth like Scales while they are locked up. Scales was given books he wanted to read and wrote reports on them.

When he was finished with a book, he would receive a new one--books such as "Daily Motivations for African American Success." Muhammad has been helping Scales, who is now a college student working two part-time jobs to support his 7-month-year-old daughter, for six years. With Muhammad's support, Scales has "changed [his] whole outlook on life," learning to appreciate it instead of taking it for granted.

This article relates to humanity as it shows that some people, like Muhammad, are willing to give their time and energy to causes they believe in. It is a heart-warming story providing an optimistic view of humanity. Many people, such as Muhammad, are willing to look past the tough, mean-natured, delinquent behavior of youth criminals and see potential for success. In order to draw out this success, they mentor these youth by giving them books to read and...