Touching Spirit Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen

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Why is the detention center important in Touching Spirit Bear?

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The detention center is meant to detain juveniles who have committed crimes and keep them off the street until they go to trial or jail. Cole has been in trouble many times in the past.  However, because of his past record and because his attack on Peter Driscal was so vicious, Cole is being held in the detention center until his trial or he gets accepted into Circle Justice.  Physically,

“His white-walled room was bare except for a bed with a grey blanket, a toilet without a cover, a shelf for clothes, a cement table, and a barred window facing the center group area.  The place smelled like cleaning disinfectant.” (pg 7-8)

During the day, he was allowed to go into the center area with the rest of those detained if he so wished.  He could watch TV, read, or talk with the other juveniles.  He was expected to keep up his studies.  A tutor came each day to instruct him and the others.  Cole kept to himself, doing the minimum to comply with the rules.  He thought it was a big joke. He did not identify with the other juveniles and thought they were a bunch of losers.

He was allowed visitors.  However, due to his angry response to his parents, they eventually stopped coming to visit.  The only visitor he had was Garvey, his probation officer. Cole was told that he would remain here until prosecutors filed a motion to transfer him to an adult court.  If he was found guilty, he would be sent to an adult prison. He did not want to be sent to prison, so he allowed Garvey to talk him into applying for Circle Justice, even though he had no intention of complying with the rules.

 “For almost three months, he had been kept in detention, guarded twenty-four hours a day. For almost three months, he had to put up with the adults from the Circle Justice committee.  What fools.  They had kept stopping by, asking questions that were a joke.  Any moron could figure out what they wanted to hear. “(pg 20)

If Cole stayed in the detention center, he would probably go to trial as an adult, and he would go to prison.  Once a detainee goes to trial, it’s too late to apply for Circle Justice.  Cole accepts Circle Justice, and that is the reason he meets the Spirit Bear.

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