DAVID He saw the body of one of his best friends dangling from the ceiling of an isolation cell. This friend had told David he would kill himself, but David didn't believe it.

After that, David ran away twice from the county facility where he'd been doing time for breaking and entering. As punishment for escape, David has become a ward of the state and his initial five-month sentence has been extended to 18 months.

David is serving time now in a correctional institution of the California Youth Authority (CYA), the largest prison system for young offenders in the United States. CYA facilities are steeped in racism and gang culture, and David says he has had to join a gang to protect himself from abuse.

David's story appears Thursday.


He has a new appreciation of freedom because he knows what it feels like to lose it. Brad was extradited from Nevada and whisked 2,000 miles away to Missouri on charges stemming from cemetery vandalism. He was locked up for 82 more days - without ever being found guilty in court.

Adults can be released pending trial, but very often juveniles are not. Sometimes, these youths languish in lockups awaiting a court appearance. In Brad's case, local officials wanted his parents to pay damages, but they refused on grounds that no court had ordered them to do so. During the standoff, the boy waited in confinement while the days ticked by - past Thanksgiving, past Christmas, past New Year's, past the nation's civil-rights celebration of Martin Luther King Day - with no court date in sight. Brad's time in detention will be examined Wednesday. JILL

She grew up hard and she grew up fast. By the time Jill was 14, she was turning tricks on the streets of Portland, Ore.

Angry, disturbed, distrustful of adults, street kids and runaways represent a long-standing problem for the juvenile-justice and child-welfare systems. Some experts say such children need to be locked up to protect, reform, or punish them. Others say the youths should be cared for in the community.

As for Jill, she doesn't think the debate should be framed in terms of punishment vs. permissiveness. She's been locked up many times. And she has been given a slap on the wrist a lot of times.

``It's time we started putting our foot down for teen-agers and caring about them,'' says the fiery redhead, now a 17-year-old, ``rather than ignoring them.'' Learn about Jill's struggles to escape from the system on Friday. EUGENE

After eight years in foster care, Eugene weighed only 17 pounds - a picture of starvation right out of Ethiopia. Yet Kentucky had taken custody of Eugene as an infant, saying his mother was responsible for injuries that resulted in his mental and physical disabilities.

Every day, children are taken from their parents for lesser offenses than the state commits, but in this case a judge took Eugene away from the state of Kentucky. The boy is back with his mother.

Records in this case show that state workers followed proper procedures, visited Eugene regularly, and tried to teach his foster mother how to feed him. No one, however, took responsibility for moving Eugene out of a dangerous foster home until it was almost too late.

Eugene's ordeal in foster care will appear Tuesday.

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