Adam Has High Hopes for a Brighter Future
"The only reason why I [would] have you around me is so that I could use you," Adam says. "If I couldn't use you, I wouldn't have you around me."
Adam Rice Zacarias has been in and out of correctional facilities since he was 15 years old. Raised in a low-income family, he soon joined a gang. His lifestyle was violent and void of healthy relationships.
Now almost 21, he's already accrued several violent and serious charges. He's currently incarcerated at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility and is set to be released this year.
AMERICA'S INCARCERATED YOUTH
In 2015, the arrest rate for youth aged 10-17 was 2,751 per every 100,000. Several states still automatically charge youth under the age of 18 as adults, regardless of their crime.
Adam's first incarceration was difficult. "I was in county [jail] with people way older than me," he remembers. "Most of them had been in prison their whole life."
Not all states are equipped to appropriately house these teenagers. Because of that, some youth—like Adam—are sent to facilities with a much older population. Or they are kept in administrative segregation, also known as solitary confinement, for their own protection.
A HOPEFUL FUTURE
Looking beyond his previous experiences with incarceration, Adam is hopeful for the future. And he's formed a relationship with Jesus Christ that has made all the difference. He appreciates the volunteers who visit the facility, sharing that it boosts his confidence to know people on the outside care and are rooting for him.
"I feel like God wants me here," Adam says. "If I had kept doing the lifestyle I was living, I would have probably ended up dead by now, or serving a life sentence. But he blessed me with opening my eyes … I read the Bible more, every day, and I've been feeling better about myself," he adds. "[I'm] feeling more positive that I can make it out there when I get out."
Today, Adam is one of the older prisoners at his youth facility. He's focused on continuing to better himself and believes that his chances of a successful reentry are high because of the programs he has participated in during his incarceration.
"My hopes for the future [are] to get married to my girl when I get out, get my own place, have a big family," he shares. "I feel like if I keep following [God's] Word that I have more of a chance."
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