Austin and Aeraunna each took a turn standing on stage at the Jackson Teen Center (JTC) in Camden on July 27, speaking to a half-filled auditorium of teenagers, parents, staff and others about how they ended up being incarcerated “behind the fence” at the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Austin, 18, and Aeraunna, 16, earned the right to become members of “The Insiders,” a part of DJJ’s Communities in Schools program in which a select group of students travel throughout the state, telling their stories about the choices that led to their incarceration. (DJJ withheld Austin and Aeraunna’s last names as part of privacy and security measures.) No sugar coating According to Insiders Coordinator Frank Green, who accompanied Austin and Aurenna, The Insiders is coming up on its 25th year at DJJ. “This is probably the most important panel we’ve ever had,” JTC Executive Director Brian Mayes told the audience. Green led a conversation with the teens in the audience, saying he was “not going to sugar coat” anything for them.
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