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‘I just like being around kids that are in trouble’
Reginald Hill spends more time with some local kids than their parents do.
Forty hours per week, to be precise.
Hill works as a guard, keeping young offenders in line at the Kitsap County Juvenile Detention Facility.
“I like being around the kids that are in trouble,” he said. “I just like to work with them.”
Kitsap County’s commissioners recently honored Hill for his 10-year career at the detention center, and Hill says he’s been successful because of his ability to develop rapport with the inmates.
Without rapport, he said, the job can be downright scary.
“Any time kids come in, they’re usually mad and angry and upset with the judge,” he said. “I try not to be a dictator. I try to figure out what’s going on in their lives.
“They usually come around,” he said, “and they’re as pleasant as possible.”
Hill’s favorite job is staying locked in “pods” — rows of cells organized around a central atrium. It’s also where detainees eat meals, wash clothes and are allowed other activities.
Hill spends most of his time locked in the “pods.”
“That took some getting used to,” he said. “Not leaving. Just being in there all the time. We’re basically locked up as well.”
Each pod contains 12 cells, a washing machine and a dryer as well as a common eating area, with cafeteria-style tables.
They’re relatively quiet.
“We don’t have any TVs here,” said Bill Trumper, the detention manager, “and we don’t have any piped-in music.”
Each inmate gets a cell with a basic blue mattress with a blanket that would be difficult to use as a suicide object — and no sheet.
Kids have tried it in the pods before, but, Hill said, no one’s ever successfully committed suicide on his watch.
Hill said he spends more than 70 percent of his time in the pods with the kids, but Bill Trumper, the detention manager, said he’ll sometimes temporarily ask Hill to do a different job.
That system has worked for Hill, who says he enjoys that sort of thing.
Before taking the job at the detention center, he worked with autistic kids at the Frances Haddon Morgan Center and he sees similarities, he said, between the jobs.
Each group of kids “has their own issues,” that go with being a kid, he said.
But there are also differences.
“(Autistic kids) don’t have a choice of their behaviors, as opposed to the kids here,” he said. “They have the choice to lash out, and they just choose to.”