When Alysia was sixteen, the police raided her aunt’s trailer and arrested Alysia for being under the influence of methamphetamine. Alysia was detained at the Juvenile Detention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we met. Alysia’s step dad introduced her to meth when she was fourteen, after her mother was arrested and sentenced to three years in state prison for car theft. During her childhood, Alysia was shuffled between homes, often staying with her grandma, her aunt or her friend’s house. The oldest of five siblings, Alysia helped raise her brothers and sisters, noting in an interview that her fondest childhood memory was “watching my siblings grow up.” When Alysia was thirteen, her biological father, who she had met for the first time six months prior, died suddenly. Around this time, Alysia recalls receiving a phone call from her mom’s then boyfriend, informing her that her mom was being arrested in the front lawn of his house. Alysia confides, “the day my mom got arrested. That’s when I started fucking up in school.” Alysia completed middle school and the first month of 9th grade, but then dropped out. She confides that she doesn’t remember much from this time period, as the meth helped “burn all the bad memories out of my brain.” Alysia visited her mother in prison sporadically, saying “my mom was never there for me. So I did the same to her.” After being arrested at sixteen and incarcerated in juvie, the court ordered Alysia to a treatment center five hours from Albuquerque where she would seek drug counseling for three months and then be placed in the foster care system. At the age of seventeen, Alysia ran away from her foster home and hitched a ride to Los Lunas where her grandma lived. Soon after, she met Emmanuel, who would become her husband a year later. Both dealing with a drug problem, they ended up in county jail after Alysia’s 18th birthday; a juvenile warrant had been issued after Alysia ran away from foster care and she was ordered to complete probation even after becoming a legal adult. After completing probation twice and becoming pregnant at the age of 18, Alysia got married to Emmanuel and give birth to Leticia, who is now two years old. Alysia remarks, “the best part of my life was when I met my husband and we had our daughter.”

Now 21 years old, Alysia has returned to school to finish her high school diploma. She hopes to become a nurse or radiologist after graduation. Meanwhile, Emmanuel, who has been incarcerated 28 times and notes that “MDC was practically my second home,” has gotten a full time job as a security guard. Right before Leticia’s birth, Emmanuel’s former gang affiliate threatened his life, causing Alysia and Emmanuel to go, basically, into hiding ever since. Now associating with few people, Alysia and Emmanuel spend most of their time in their apartment when not at school or work.  When asked to look back on her experiences of incarceration, Alysia confides, “I hate being stuck in one place and not being able to leave. That’s what juvie was like. Even when I lived with my grandma, I was always taking off on my own.”