Chapter 1: Prologue
“You have the right to remain silent.”
The words echoed through his head.
He’d heard them thousands of times. You didn’t grow up in Crime Alley without seeing someone in cuffs at least twice a day. Hell. He’d seen his father arrested twice and his mother arrested once.
“Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.”
He nodded and tried to get more comfortable, but the cuffs digging into his wrists made that easier said than done. His ribs hurt, and he wasn’t sure he’d be eating anything too solid for at least a few days.
“You have the right to an attorney.”
He was a minor He’d get off easy. That was what Roman had told him at least. But now, bent over the hood of a police car, red and blue lights blinding him, hands cuffed behind his back, he wasn’t so sure Roman had made a good call. Just take one for the team.
“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.”
Like he wanted one of Gotham County’s shitty public defenders. Jason had seen kids younger than him get harsher sentences for far less than what he was about to go down for.
“Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”
Jason nodded and cried out when the officer grabbed him by his arms, pulling him back.
“Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?” the officer demanded, voice rougher that time around. Not the deadpan, standard procedure voice Jason had heard him using earlier.
“Yes,” he shut his eyes, wishing he could open them and wake up back in his old room, the one with the peeling paint and the dripping ceiling, and find out that the past two years had just been the worst nightmare in the history of nightmares.
He yelped when the officer opened the car door and shoved Jason inside. Plastic covered everything? Check. Bars on the barricade separating him from Officer 192? Double check.
Like he could even still put up a fight.
“State law says we can’t get you sentenced to ell-whop.” What the hell did that even mean? “But between you and me?” Jason watched 192 put the car into drive. “We’d all be better off without you in the picture.”
He’d seen the graffiti words, big and blood red and sprayed on the side of the billboard right outside his old home, and he saw them again as 192 drove straight toward downtown.
God Hates Crime Alley.
Chapter 2: We Will Not Go Quietly
Growing up, Jason had had a theory that Crime Alley was where hope went to die. But now? Oh, now he knew that honor belonged to the booking room at the Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders.
Look straight ahead. Don’t smile (like he even could). No funny stuff. Click. Flash. Turn.
Any identifying marks?
Birthmark on his hip.
A CO lifted his shirt. Click. Flash. Turn.
They were staring.
He thought he was imagining it at first.
Why wouldn’t they stare?
“Jason Peter Todd.”
“Date of birth?”
“August 16, 2003.”
“Social Security Number?”
“I don’t know.”
He was labeled a punk the second he’d walked through those doors. It wasn’t his fault the only shirt he owned was torn and stained, that his pants were too big to stay up on their own…
Rough-Hands CO grabbed Jason’s hands and rolled his thumbs across an ink pad and onto a sheet of paper, right next to his mugshot. Look, Dad. Just like you.
He wished he could tear the paper up then and there. Like it would do any good. They’d just make him go through this whole process again and again and again and throw a resisting charge on top of everything else.
But the words were there, more damning than anything else he could have said or done.
Gang Affiliation: Black Masks
At least the cuffs were gone.
No lethal weapons in the jail. 192 had commented what a shame it was that some CO couldn’t off Jason as soon as he walked through that steel door.
Still, he could see a taser on the hip of every last CO in the room.
He didn’t recognize the stranger in the picture. There was something dead in the picture-Jason’s eyes that Jason hadn't realized was there before. Hell. Maybe it wasn’t.
Rough-Hands grabbed Jason by the arm and dragged him into a shower stall.
He hadn't even thought about that.
“Strip.” Rough-hands crossed his arms, and Jason felt his blood run cold.
They’d already frisked him.
Roman hadn't warned him about this part.
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath before doing as he was asked. Well. As he was commanded. “Happy?” Jason demanded when the officer concluded Jason didn’t have anything on him.
Rough-Hands nodded and cranked the water on, and Jason all but shrieked when ice cold water pelted his bare skin. He’d barely gotten the chance to adjust when the water was turned back off.
Rough-Hands dragged him out of the stall and handed Jason the standard-issue uniform of a Gotham delinquent: clean socks, clean underwear, and dark green jumpsuit with the word ‘JUVENILE’ printed on the back in big, blocked lettering.
Jason shut his eyes when Rough-Hands re-cuffed him, this time adding shackles to his ankles for good measure. “Better get used to it, Todd,” the man smirked, and Jason shot him a death glare. “Gonna spend the rest of your sorry life like this.”
You’re a minor, kid, Roman’s voice echoed in Jason’s head. They’ll let you off easy. Now be a good boy and take the gun. Don’t worry. Daddy’s going to take good care of you.
“Throw him in D,” a female CO shoved a rolled-up sleeping mat and a tattered blanket into Rough-Hands’ arms.
Jason followed Rough-Hands through a dark corridor, barely lit. He could see his fellow inmates through the one-way glass: most sleeping, some obviously strung out on God-only-knew what. He could see a CO breaking up a fight between two boys younger than him in another block.
“Fighting over their damn trays,” Rough-Hands shook his head, stopping in front of a reinforced door, a big block ‘D’ painted on the wall beside it. “Open D-Pod,” he commanded into his radio, and Jason watched as a light flashed inside the pod, listened as the door clicked open.
Rough-Hands shoved Jason inside, and it took everything Jason had in him to snap at the man to quit manhandling him. They were treating him like… well. A criminal.
He glanced around the pod and felt sick to his stomach. He could see twenty-three inmates, all with their backs to Jason and Rough-Hands, all with their hands placed palm-down on the grey concrete walls.
He had to have been the youngest person in the room, maybe even by two years.
“Enjoy your stay, Todd.” Rough-Hands unlocked Jason’s cuffs and shackles, shoved the bedding into his hands, and left.
It took under a minute for his fellow delinquents (some alleged, most convicted) to swarm him. “Boy, you must have really fucked up to land in here with us,” the biggest one smirked and crossed his arms, and Jason wondered if he was under eighteen at all. “So tell us. What’d you do?”
“None of your fucking business,” Jason snapped and moved to an open bunk. The bottom was occupied, so he unrolled his mat on the top.
“I say you could fuckin’ sleep there?” the big one grabbed Jason by the shoulders and spun him around so fast that Jason barely had time to register what happened.
“You kiss your mom with that fuckin’ mouth?” Jason countered.
Jason watched as the big one’s mouth turned into a grin, one filled with nothing but pure, unadulterated malice. He’d only ever seen that grin on Roman’s face before he went off to ‘handle’ a problem. “You’re gonna regret the day you were born, kid.” He landed a harsh pat on Jason’s back before retreating to the day area.
Too late for that.
Lights on was a pointless term, Jason couldn’t help but think, because the lights had only been dimmed, not turned completely off. He had to trust that the analog clock over the pod door was accurate. No windows meant no clues to the outside. It could have been 3 AM for all he knew.
He’d barely eaten anything from his breakfast tray, but he didn’t dare offer it to any of the others. Listen kid. You can’t do favors for anybody in there. The only person you can rely on is us. We’re your family now. Morning meds came next, and Jason would have put money on half his fellow inmates cheeking them to sell for later.
“So what’d you do to end up with us older guys?” a redheaded man a few years older than Jason had asked as he slid into the seat across from Jason. Jason just shrugged in response. And don’t try to make any friends. They’ll all turn on you. We’re all you’ve got, kid. “You’ll be here awhile,” the redhead shrugged, and Jason watched as he picked at his food. “You’ll talk to some of us at some point.”
The clock struck eight when the pod door opened again, two COs standing in the door. “Harper,” the taller of the two shouted, and Jason watched the redhead perk up. “Todd.” Jason straightened his posture. “Get your asses over here. You’re headed to court.”
Jason followed the redhead, Harper, over to the COs who had them cuffed and shackled together in no time. The two COs led them out of the pod and into that same, dark hallway Jason had walked through the night before before chaining them to three more boys.
At least the courthouse was connected.
The courtroom was everything Jason had pictured in his mind the second Roman had shoved the gun into his hand. Wood paneling on the walls, carpet from the sixties. Hell, the smell of stale cigarette smoke still clung to everything, and he knew smoking in courtrooms had been made illegal decades ago.
He approached the microphone situated between two tables and directly in front of the judge’s bench. “Jason Todd,” the judge spoke, her voice clear, authoritative. “In the matter of 41C01-1901-JD-31, the People of New Jersey v. Jason P. Todd, a child alleged to be a delinquent child, that on or about January 19, 2019, count one, murder, a felony: Jason Todd did knowingly or intentionally commit a felonious act, to-wit, armed robbery that did result in the death of one Lewis Nevil.” He shut his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again. “Count two, armed robbery, a Class A felony: Jason Todd did knowingly or intentionally take the property of one Lewis Nevil by putting Lews Nevil in fear, and said offense was committed with a deadly weapon, to-wit, a handgun.”Count three, gang criminality, a class D felony: Jason Todd did knowingly or intentionally commit a crime, to-wit, armed robbery in furtherance of a criminal gang, to-wit, the Black Masks, all of which is contrary to the peace and dignity of the State of New Jersey.”
Jason glanced up at the judge, not daring to meet her eye.
“Do you understand these charges brought forth by the State of New Jersey, Mr. Todd?” the judge asked, and Jason just stared at her. Keep your damn mouth shut. Don’t speak unless spoken to. “Know that by saying you understand these charges, you are not admitting or denying guilt in the matter.”
Jason took another shaky breath before speaking, hating how much his voice shook when he said the words. “Yes, Your Honor.”
“I told you I’d pay you back. I have the money. I just need more time…”
“Do you understand that you have been made a ward of the state, and as such, an attorney will be provided to you?”
“You said that a month ago, Nevil. So where’s the fucking money?
“Yes, Your Honor.”
He’d looked over at Jason, fear in his eyes, but one of Roman’s men had forced him to his knees.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Todd, this court does not have jurisdiction over such a high level felony as murder…”
The gun had been pressed flush against the back of his head, and the bang had startled Jason more than anything else.
“We will be waiving you into criminal court.”
You’re a minor. You’ll get off easy. Out of juvie as soon as you turn eighteen. Sooner with good behavior.
"I hereby order you remanded back into custody."
Take the gun.
Chapter 3: And Not a Soul to Hear
Jason sat in a dark, gray room, empty except for the table he was chained to, the chair he was sitting in, and the one-way glass he’d been assured was being monitored in case he tried anything funny. He had to hand it to the justice system. They got him a lawyer fast.
He glanced at the door when he heard it click open and watched as a tall, dark-haired woman entered the room, a file Jason assumed was his in her hand. “Nice to meet you, Jason,” she greeted with a pleasant smile, and Jason wanted to snap that there was nothing nice about their meeting at all. “My name is Diana Prince, and I’ll be handling your case.”
Jason nodded and slouched down as far in his chair as his restraints would let him.
“I’ve been informed your parents passed away some time ago,” the woman continued, and Jason tried to tune her out. “I’m sorry to hear that. But I’m going to do everything I can to get the best possible outcome for you.”
Yeah right. He fought the urge to roll his eyes. She was going to do whatever she could to get the case done and over with as soon as possible.
He listened as she half-explained what he was charged with, going into a little more detail than the judge had, but none of it was news to him.
“The good news is you’re under eighteen.” Jason snapped his attention back to reality when he heard those words. Hadn't the judge told him he was going to adult court? What did his age matter anymore? “That means you can’t get life without possibility of parole.” State law says we can’t sentence you to LWOP. “I won’t lie to you, Jason, these charges are serious, and Dent’s liable to want to make an example out of you.”
Drop the weapon.
“You’re in criminal court instead of juvenile,” Diana continued, and Jason just nodded in response, still not saying anything. “That means you have the right to a jury trial. I’ll go ahead and file a Demand for Jury Trial with your other paperwork…” Jason started to protest, to argue that he wasn’t sure he wanted a trial yet. That he wanted to see what the DA would end up offering first. “That doesn’t mean we have to go to trial,” she continued, and Jason let out a breath. “But it’s there if we need it.”
On the fucking ground. Now!
He watched as Diana thumbed through his file, watched as she nodded at a few things and closed it again. “I’ll meet with you as soon as I have anything to communicate,” she promised. “Until then, keep your head down, don’t get into any more trouble, and don’t talk to any law enforcement without me being present. Got it?”
“Got it,” Jason muttered and watched as an officer escorted her out.
The biggest inmate was gone when Jason was returned to D-pod, and based on the gossip going around, he’d been thrown in seg. How long? No one knew. Hopefully awhile. Probably awhile, if the smaller kid who got sent to medical was anything to go off of.
Falling into a routine became easy enough. Breakfast at five, classes until three, dinner at five, and lights out at nine.The classes weren’t good, more glorified babysitting than anything else, but it was the closest thing to actual schooling Jason had gotten since his mom OD’d when he was thirteen.
We’ll teach you everything you need to know. Don’t worry about that.
He learned how his new world worked, and he learned quickly. No time to try and figure it out. No time to make mistakes. The big guy had certainly seemed intimidating, but Jason learned who was really in charge on day five.
Harper was never alone, at least almost never. People flocked to him like he was some sort of Messiah, and Jason couldn’t figure out why.
The pathetic excuses for classes had ended for the day, and Harper sat in the day area, playing cards with three of the other boys. He’d rolled his jumpsuit down and tied it around his waist, white tank-top covering his torso. “New kid,” he greeted with a grin when Jason walked past them to get a cup of water. “Sit with us.”
Jason started to come up with an excuse, say that he had things he needed to do… But it was a lie, a bad one at that, and he didn’t need more reason for the others in the pod to hate him more than they already did.
He took a seat across from the redhead and picked up the hand Harper dealt him.
“A little birdie tells me you’re in for murder.”
In the matter of The People of New Jersey v. Jason P. Todd, 41D01-1901-MR-431, how do you plead?
Not Guilty, Your Honor.
Jason shrugged, not wanting to confirm or deny what Harper had said. Good news travels fast, apparently. But Harper kept staring at him, leaned back in his seat with an eyebrow raised like he was waiting for a response. "Something like that," Jason muttered before staring down at his hand. He didn't even know what they were playing.
Keep your head down and your mouth shut.
"A little birdie also tells me you've got connections with the Black Mask."
Jason felt his blood run cold at that. How had they known? He wasn't even fully initiated yet, not that the courts gave a shit about that.
Your little whore of a mom died before she could pay me off, you know that?
"Sounds like you got a bird problem on your hands," Jason commented. It was ballsy, maybe too ballsy too soon.
Someone must have been looking out for him, though, because Harper grinned and laughed and set his cards down on the table. Jason watched as Harper leaned in toward him, and Jason hoped to whoever the hell was out there that he wasn't pulling one of the many mind games Roman was so fond of.
Guess you'll just have to work the debt off, kid.
"You like gummy candy?" Harper asked, and for a moment, Jason wondered if he'd heard him correctly. It was a change of subject, that was for damn sure. He nodded slightly, too afraid to do anything else. Sure, he had a good couple inches on Harper, but the older boy had a cult following, and Jason? Jason didn't have a damned thing.
Jason reluctantly took a handful of the gummy bears the boy sitting next to Harper offered them. Something seemed off about them, but he wasn't sure what. "Harper can get almost anything in here," the boy explained, and Jason wanted nothing more than to push the gummies as far away from him as he could.
"I don't do drugs," Jason explained. It was only a half-truth, but Harper didn't need to know that. "Shit killed my mom."
"You're about to earn a one-way ticket to Blackgate," Harper commented, and Jason watched as the redhead studied him for a long moment before standing. "Eat the damn candy."
Jason watched as Harper left the table, going off to do God-only-knew what, and only then did he let himself breathe. "Harper's a cool guy," one of the smaller guys commented, and Jason just nodded. "He seems to like you too. Don't fuck it up."
"What's he in for?" Jason asked. It was a question he wouldn't have dared asked with Harper present.
"Drug possession," the guy beside him shrugged. "Had a few syringes too. He gets out in a month, but he'll be back. He always is. Shame too. His kid needs him."
Jason nodded and reluctantly ate one of the gummy bears, wondering what the hell he'd managed to get himself into.
One-way ticket to Blackgate.
He took a shaky breath and left the table, hoping to hell that Roman would get him out of the mess he’d created.
Chapter 4: Snitches and Talkers
Jason sat in the visitation room, still in a mild state of shock that Roman had wanted to see him in the first place. It had to have been risky for him. The movies had lied. They didn't meet individually in an interrogation room. They didn't talk with phones, a piece of bulletproof glass keeping them separated. They met in a large room with Jason's fellow inmates who were meeting with their own families.
"Jason," Roman smiled and slid into the chair across the table from where Jason sat. Jason glanced him over, trying to get a feel for which Roman he was dealing with that afternoon: the one who had promised to protect him, or the one that had sold him out. "How have you been? They treating you okay?" Like you give a shit.
Jason nodded and glanced across the room. Harper sat at a table with a blond man sporting a goatee. He held a small girl, she couldn't have been older than one, close to his body. In the week and a half Jason had been in juvie, he couldn't remember seeing Roy look that happy. He hoped he wouldn't screw it up.
"I put some money on your books," Roman continued, and Jason snapped back to attention at that. The last thing he needed was to have an even bigger debt with the man. "Don't worry, kid," Roman held his hands up. "You do right by me, and I"ll make all of this go away."
"You shouldn't be here," Jason said. "People might get suspicious."
"They will if you keep talking like that." Jason watched as Roman crossed his arms and balanced his chair on its two back legs. "They offer you a deal, yet?" Roman raised an eyebrow, and Jason shook his head.
Diana said she would talk to him as soon as she had something to communicate, and Jason hadn't heard from her since their first meeting. No news is good news. That was what Roy had told him. And... well... Roy certainly seemed to know how the system worked better than Jason did.
Jason watched as Roman shifted so their heads were almost together, and he felt his stomach drop when he saw a casual grin on Roman’s face. He's not going to help you get out of this.
"They'll offer you something before long," Roman said, keeping his voice low so the others around them couldn't hear their discussion. Jason nodded at that. Deals were good. Deals meant he didn't have to go to trial... "They'll say you're just a kid. No way you could've killed 'im." Jason frowned at that. Where was Roman headed with that? Wherever the conversation was heading, he was sure he didn't like it. "They're gonna give you less time if you tell them who really pulled the trigger."
And there it was.
Roman didn't give a shit about Jason or how the COs were treating him or about any deals the DA was or wasn't going to offer him. Roman was covering his own ass. Just like he always did.
"I know you, Jason," Roman continued, but his voice had turned from calm, friendly even, to something more serious, more sinister, and Jason felt his skin crawl. "So I need you to tell me what you're going to do when that happens."
Jason knew a threat when he saw one, and he wondered how Roman had learned to communicate one without any mention of bodily harm.
"I ain't no snitch," Jason assured, looking Roman dead in the eye. The message communicated had been clear. If Jason signed a plea that meant ratting Roman out, Jason was good as dead the second he stepped out of prison, if not before.
"Good boy," Roman smiled and stood. "Don't worry, kid." That damned smile was plastered back on his face as if they had just been talking about Roman's weekend plans and how nice the weather was supposed to be. "We'll take good care of you."
Go to hell.
Jason sat in silence for the remainder of the visitation session, watching the others. He should have been grateful. That’s what the small voice in the back of his head told him. He had someone to put money on his books. He had someone that had come to visit him and had gotten him out of the pod, at least for an hour.
Half the other boys couldn’t say that much.
“What is in this shit?” Jason grinned and dangled his legs over the side of the bunk. Roy sat next to him, and the rest of their podmates were smart enough to leave them the hell alone.
“No clue man,” Harper returned the grin and leaned back against the bunk. They didn’t have long to smoke whatever the hell it was. The COs would smell it down the hall. They’d have to flush the remainder of the stash and hope that nothing too damning would pop up in a search.
Jason wasn’t sure what he’d done to earn the older boy’s respect, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to throw it away. Roy ran the pod, and Jason had been taken under his wing. That wasn’t something he took lightly.
See kid, it’s like this. We’re a family now. You take care of us? We’ll take care of you. Simple.
“Shit,” Harper groaned when no less than six COs burst into the room. “That didn’t take long.”
Jason groaned and grabbed the baggie, running to the shared bathroom and flushing the stash before the officers could search their bunk. He’d get in trouble for not lining up when told to, but when he was about to go down for a murder he didn’t commit, a few juvie violations didn’t seem like a big deal.
“Todd, get in formation,” an officer snapped, and Jason rolled his eyes before lining up next to Harper. He turned his back to the officer and placed his hands on the wall in front of him, trying not to giggle when Roy made a face at him.
He tensed when one of the COs started to pat him down. Two weeks of living in the detention center, and he still hated it whenever one of them touched him. It shouldn’t have phased him. He’d had worse done to him before. A frisk was nothing, especially when they wouldn’t find anything.
It seemed a small eternity before they were permitted to put their bunks back together, the shake-up having revealed a metric nothing.
“We gotta be more careful, man,” Jason commented as he threw his mat back down on the top bunk. “Don’ get me thrown in seg.”
“Please,” Harper rolled his eyes. “It’s jus’ drugs.”
Jason nodded and hopped back up onto his bunk once he’d finished making it. Just drugs. That’s what he kept telling himself. She won’t wake up.
Why won’t she wake up?
“Get out in two weeks, man,” Harper said dreamily. “Gonna go back to Star and try to be good for my little girl.”
“Baby mama not in the picture?” Jason asked, staring up at the ceiling, not daring to look down at Harper, afraid he’d see emotions on the older boy’s face that Jason wasn’t supposed to see. Two weeks of life in D-Pod, and Jason had noticed everyone seemed to dance around the subject.
“Nah,” Harper sighed and went silent for a moment. “She’s in some federal women’s prison.”
Jason almost laughed at the similarities between himself and Harper’s kid. Young parents with a record. One locked up for a good, long while, the other hooked on God-only-knew what. “Sucks, man.”
She’d learn too much about the world too soon, just like Jason had.
At least Harper seemed like he meant it when he said he was done fucking his life up.
Still, Jason knew how this game played out. Promises would be broken. Little, white lies would turn into bigger, dangerous ones just like they always did.
Poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.
God knew he never did.
Chapter 5: Competency Evaluation of Jason P. Todd
I am not a medical professional. Nothing in this chapter should be considered medical opinion or advice.
Patient Name: Jason Todd
Cause #: 41D01-1901-MR-431
Date of Evaluation: 02/01/2019
Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders
Attending Physician: Dr. Harleen Quinzel, MD
Mr. Todd is a 15-year-old Caucasian male who was evaluated today under court order from the Gotham County Superior Court 1 to conduct defendant’s comprehension of the proceedings and for competency determination. Mr. Todd was evaluated in the building of the Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders and he was explained this is a court ordered competency evaluation and not a true doctor-patient relationship. Therefore, the confidentiality would not exist and the report would be submitted to the Gotham County Superior Court 1, and the patient did understand and agree to give me the information that led to my completing this competency evaluation.
HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS: Mr. Todd is a 15-year-old single Caucasian male who is currently detained in the Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders, awaiting trial. Both parents are deceased, and Mr. Todd has been made a ward of the state. He gave me most of the information in a clear manner without any evidence of cognitive impairment. He denies any current depression, but he talks in detail of different stress, including his legal natures and living situation, and was seen to exhibit quite a bit of anxiety throughout the evaluation. He stated that he is stressed out all the time and was observed to be quite restless and anxious and would repeat quite often that he did not like to talk about things, but he did talk to me and started mentioning a little bit about the physical and sexual abuse he experience during childhood. Then he stopped and stated that he does not like to talk about those things, and did seem to be getting a little uncomfortable while talking about those issues.
Mr. Todd denies being depressed and denies any current treatment for depression. He also informed me that he has not had any treatment for depression. However, during the evaluation, I did pick up quite a bit of substance abuse issues.
He does appear to have instability in his life at this time. Throughout the evaluation, he was able to make good eye contact, was able to comprehend all of the questions asked by me, and was able to carry on a reasonable conversation without any element of cognitive impairment. Relative to anxiety, I did not get any element of mod instability.
PAST PSYCHIATRIC HISTORY: Patient denies any prior inpatient or outpatient psychiatric hospitalization. He does have substance abuse history, as he stated that he has tried most of the drugs, including marijuana, crack, and alcohol. Marijuana is calling to him as his drug of choice, and he states he has not been able to achieve any significant period of sobriety. He is currently not taking any psychotropic medication, nor has he had any trial of psychotropic medication in the past. He denies previous history of self-mutilating behavior or suicidal ideation, intent, or plan.
PAST MEDICAL HISTORY: No acute or chronic medical illnesses
CURRENT MEDICATIONS: None
FAMILY HISTORY: Patient confirms history of mental illness and substance abuse in the immediate family.
DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY: Patient reports that he has experienced physical and sexual abuse, but did not say anything because no one would believe him. This was something that bothered him a lot and he seemed to be frustrated while talking about it today. He stated that at one point, his father pulled a gun on him and his mother and threatened to kill them both.
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY: 15-year-old Caucasian male who stated he is single and has been living on the streets. He reports that the highest grade he completed in school is 6 th . He has an extensive history of substance abuse and dependence as mentioned earlier, and reports that he is currently not clean.
MENTAL STATUS EXAMINATION: Young Caucasian male who was appropriately dressed with fair personal hygiene appears to be in no acute distress or discomfort. He was awake and alert and interacted with intact orientation to time, place, and person. His mood was anxious. His speech was fluent and goal directed. His thought process was organized. No paranoia or delusional behavior was noted. Patient denies any hallucinations. His insight and judgment remain fairly intact.
Axis I: Polysubstance Dependence; Substance Induced Mood Disorder
Axis II: Deferred
Axis III: None
Axis IV: Severe psychosocial stressors, including living situation and current legal issues
Axis V: Current GAF of 53
DISCUSSION: Patient has presented with history of physical and sexual abuse during childhood and appears to have some traumatic experiences during childhood as he has mentioned to me that he grew up and did not have a good relationship with either parent. He has not had a good childhood and dropped out of school after 6 th grade. He has an extensive history of substance abuse and dependency and appears to have some underlying mood disorder and possibly some depression and anxiety issues. However, he never proceeded to get any help and did not even get help for his chemical dependency issues, which appear to be significant at this time. It probably overwhelms his underlying mood disorder issue. However, he currently is not obtaining treatment and appears to be quite stable on his mood, other than his persistent anxiety issues which may be due to multiple psychosocial stressors that he has in his life at this time.
Pursuant to New Jersey Criminal Code, Mr. Jason Todd does appear to be able to understand the legal proceedings and assist in the preparation of his defense proceedings.
Opinion: Defendant is competent to stand trial.
/s/ Harleen Quinzel, Board Certified Psychiatrist
Chapter 6: Stitches and Walkers
Jason sat in that same damned room he'd met Diana in the first time. Same handcuffs keeping him chained to the same steel table. Same one-way glass. Same light that was just about to go bad.
It was almost like he was back in it for the first time.
He wondered if all police stations and jails had some sort of dealer that supplied them with lightbulbs that flickered at irregular intervals for aesthetic purposes.
"Jason," Diana smiled as she entered the room and slid into the seat across from him. A smile. That had to mean good news. Maybe they were dropping the charges? No. That was stupid. They'd found him with the gun and the body. His prints were the only ones they'd found on the weapon.
Damn Roman and his damned gloves.
"Dent has an offer for you," Diana began, and Jason felt his stomach drop. Roman had warned him about this... Well. Warned wasn't exactly the right choice of word there.
Two rules you need to know, kid.
"They're willing to drop the murder charge," Diana spoke, and Jason was skeptical of that. Jason hadn't killed the man. He knew it. Roman knew it. He was pretty sure Diana knew it. But it certainly looked like Jason had been the one to do it, that was for damned sure.
One: we take care of our own.
"You plead guilty to armed robbery," Diana continued, and Jason fought the urge to roll his eyes. They hadn't gone there to rob the man. They'd gone there to kill him. But that point was moot by then. It wasn't like Dent was going to care. It would just change the situation from felony murder to outright murder, and like hell was Jason going to let that happen.
Two: snitches get stitches. You can be damned sure of that.
"Ten years," Jason blinked and stared up at Diana. "Three years in juvenile detention, seven in prison. Five years parole after that."
It was almost too good to be true.
It was a hell of a lot less time than the 45-65 he was looking at if a jury convicted him.
A hell of a lot less time.
"What's the catch?" Jason asked. Because there was always a catch. No one got off that easily. Especially not him. Because when it came to the game of life? Jason had been dealt nothing but shitty hand after shitty hand. He doubted that was about to change.
He watched as Diana sighed and folded her hands onto the table. "You didn't kill Nevil," she spoke, her voice soft and clear. Jason just kept looking at her, hoping he wasn't betraying anything in his expression, in his body language. "I don't buy that. Dent doesn't buy it. But if you're willing to work with Dent? He's willing to work with you."
It would be so, so easy to say yes, agree to snitch on Roman and make this all one horrific nightmare.
But Jason knew all too well what happened to people who got on Roman's bad side. The lucky ones ended up dead. The unlucky ones wished they were dead.
And the really unlucky ones? They died before Roman could get to them, and their kids got roped into his mess.
Rule one: we take care of our own.
You do this for me kid, and I"ll make all of this go away...
The words were bitter in his mouth, but what choice did he have?
If he went to trial, he'd risk a 65 year sentence.
If he snitched on Roman? He was good as dead the second he stepped out of Blackgate.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Jason, I am trying to help you here," Diana pinched the bridge of her nose, and Jason just stared down at the cold, metal table they were seated at. "You don't win anything by protecting the person who did kill him."
Jason shook his head and glanced at the one-way glass.
"Can I go now?"
The fight had been quick and brutal and Jason wasn't even entirely sure he was sure of what he'd seen. One minute, he'd been sitting, eating his dinner tray with Roy and Roy's friends, and the next? Some poor bastard was getting the shit beaten out of him by some other delinquent who wasn't even in for a major charge.
It had taken the COs more than five minutes to response, and even Roy hadn't been able to break it up like he normally could.
"Break it up!" a CO shouted as he rushed into the room, pulling the attacker off of his victim, forcing his hands behind his back in a fluid motion that made Jason wonder how often things like this happened in the place. Everything he'd seen up until that point had just been minor scuffles that Roy was able to deal with before the officers had to come break it up.
Jason watched as the attacker spat on the ground near the victim's face, and glanced over at Roy for some clue as to what the hell he was supposed to do.
"What happened?" the CO snapped and glanced over at Roy, who just shrugged in response. Jason started to open his mouth to say what he'd seen leading up to the fight, but a death glare from one of Roy's little cult followers shut him up more quickly than anything else could have.
"Didn't see anything, officer," Roy answered, and Jason knew it was bullshit, but he wasn't going to press it.
It was almost uncanny, how similar his situation from before and his current situation were. First Rule? We take care of our own. At least Roy seemed to genuinely like Jason. Or at least tolerate him.
Roman had only ever wanted to use him.
He followed Roy back to their bunk when he saw Roy nod toward it, and sat on the bottom bunk with him once the CO had escorted the attacker out of the pod.
“He snitched on Johnson,” Roy shrugged and lay back against the rubber mat. “Kid’s lucky he didn’t die.”
“Yeah,” Jason nodded and stared up at the top bunk, wishing he were somewhere, anywhere, else. He needed to get used to it. Adapt. Even if he were willing to snitch on Roman, he’d be looking at at least ten more years of this shit. And he got a feeling it would only be worse once he got moved to the big-boy facility.
“I get out in a few days,” Roy started, and Jason just nodded. He knew it. They all did. And tension had been high in the pod, and was getting worse with every passing minute. Because once Roy left? Where did that leave everyone? Who was in charge? Would his little band of not-quite-friends but definitely not his enemies still look out for one another? “Just keep your head down and your mouth shut. You’ll be fine.”
Jason nodded and hugged a knee to his chest. None of it had felt real until that moment. But what had he expected? No one stayed there forever. Most did a few days or a few weeks and went on their merry way until they showed back up again a few months later. And people like him? Well the system was just waiting until they turned eighteen so they could deal with them properly.
Ten years if he snitched.
45-65 if he went to trial and lost.
I didn’t do it.
It doesn’t matter.
Jason, I’m trying to help you.
Like hell she was.
No one had ever given a shit about him.
No one ever would.
Chapter 7: Bed and Baggage
"Harper, can I have your commissary?"
It was the common phrase Jason had heard for three days now. No one seemed to be happy Roy was getting out. No one really seemed to care about anything other than who was going to get his stuff. After all, he couldn't take it with him. Vultures. All of them were vultures. And all of them were watching Jason like a hawk.
He wasn't stupid, not completely. He knew the only reason the past several weeks had gone by as smoothly as they had was because Roy had decided he liked Jason. And what was going to happen later that night, when Roy was gone and Jason was alone? What happened then?
"Just don't do anything stupid, okay?" Harper patted Jason on the back and finished rolling up the pathetic excuse for a mattress they were all issued at booking. "Would hate to see you get hurt or something."
"Will try," Jason muttered and pulled a knee to his chest. He wondered who would replace Harper. Hopefully someone similar, someone who didn't have a short fuse on him. But if there was one thing Jason had learned since his arrival? The big guys called the shots.
And Jason? He was just some young kid, scrawny and growth-stunted the way all Crime Alley kids seemed to be.
"Harper!" Jason turned when he heard the locked door click open, two COs entering in. "Davies. Smith. Bed and baggage."
They were the words everyone in there looked forward to hearing, at least those who were going to get out and have their records locked away where no one could see them again. The ones that got sent to adult facilities once they turned eighteen? That was a different story. Your story, the voice in the back of his head told him. And that was only if he were lucky enough to live that long.
"Take care of yourself," Harper shot Jason a smile, and Jason watched as he left the pod, door locking shut behind him.
The afternoon had gone by smoothly, all things considered. They'd gone to their stupid excuses for classes, gotten their hour outside, and had gone back to their pod without a single incident. But everyone seemed to be tense, as if they were waiting for something to go wrong. And when something inevitably went wrong? What then? The COs had always trusted Harper to handle things before they had to. But Harper was gone.
So where did that leave them?
"Todd," one of the older boys, easily twice as heavy as Jason, approached him while he was sitting, trying to read one of the crappy paperbacks from the crappy library. At least it made the time go by a little faster. Jason glared when the boy ripped the book out of his hands and threw it to the ground, but kept his mouth shut. You have a right to remain silent, he'd overheard one of the other boys say once. Some people really need to learn to fuckin' use it.
He couldn't help but think he'd made a mistake in not responding, though, when the older boy grabbed him by the collar of his jumpsuit and pulled him to his feet. "Hey Todd," he grinned, something sadistic that Jason had only really ever associated with Roman before. "I'm talkin' to you. You just gonna ignore me?"
Jason thought about talking, making some sort of snarky remark. But somewhere deep down, he had a feeling he was better off just keeping quiet, even if it did seem to piss the guy off even more. "What, you think you're some hotshot just because you was Harper's bitch?"
Jason felt something snap in him at that comment. His blood boiled, and he wanted nothing more than to punch the guy square in the jaw. But the guy had hit him before Jason could even clench his fist, and Jason stumbled backward, instinctively raising a hand to his jaw. It hadn't been a particularly good hit, but it had taken him by surprise, and it still left a nasty sting.
"What the hell, man?" Jason snapped and started to charge at the guy, but two other boys grabbed him and held him back before he could even get close.
"You think you're some hotshot 'cause you killed a guy?" the big one questioned, and Jason cried out when he landed a hard punch straight to Jason's gut, knocking the wind out of him and leaving him doubled over and gasping. Where the hell were the COs? Weren't they supposed to be watching? Keeping shit like this from happening? "You ain't worth shit," the big one continued, and Jason froze when he grabbed Jason by the shoulders, pulling him away from the two holding him back only to bash Jason's head against the concrete wall.
Jason fell to the ground with a hard thud when the big one dropped him. His head was ringing and hurt like hell, and he was pretty sure he was seeing double. At least he sure as hell hoped that there wasn't two of his attacker. He coughed and sputtered when the guy landed a harsh kick to his ribs, and turned deathly pale when he heard what sounded an awful lot like a snap.
"You're a dead man, Todd," the older boy laughed as two COs grabbed him, restraining him. Jason curled up on his side, trying not to wince even though every breath hurt and his head was reeling, and God he felt sick to his stomach.
"Get him to medical," one of the COs said to the other.
Suddenly ten years didn't seem like such a bad deal after all.
"The hell happened to you?" Roman questioned and leaned toward Jason, resting his chin on his hand.
Jason just shook his head. The absolute last person he wanted to see that morning was the man who'd gotten him into this mess in the first place. He'd thought he'd get lucky. That being sent to medical for the night would have gotten him out of visitation. That Roman wouldn't have even bothered to show up in the first place. But he must have gotten wind of the deal Dent had offered Jason by then. And Jason had been stupid for thinking luck would go his way for once.
"Come on, kid," Roman continued, a concerned look that didn't quite reach his eyes plastered on his face. "You can trust me."
He had trusted that Roman would get him out of this mess, and it had been weeks. He had trusted Roman was right when he said Jason would get off easy, and now? He was looking at ten years minimum. He was looking at time in an adult prison full of actual murderers and rapists and God-only-knew what else.
"Just a disagreement," Jason muttered, never looking up from the table. He wasn't sure he could keep everything in if he looked Roman in the eye. If he looked at him at all. He'd gotten involved in a dangerous game, and now he was paying the price for it. But what choice had he had? "It's fine.
"All right," Roman shrugged and leaned back in his chair. He crossed his arms, as if waiting for Jason to say something, but what was there to say? Roman had eyes and ears everywhere. He knew about the deal. Jason would have put money on it, if he had any money to bet with, that was. "I have connections, Jason," he said, leaning back in and keeping his voice low so the officers in the room couldn't hear. "I can take care of this."
Jason just nodded, but still kept silent. That statement had been equal parts offer and threat. Roman wasn't just letting him know he had people that could help. He was informing Jason that he had people on the inside that could handle any little problem that may have come up. Especially if Jason had been the one to cause it.
"Just think about it, kid," Roman sighed, and Jason finally looked up when he heard the chair scoot back. He watched as Roman brushed off and turned, heading for the door.
He folded his arms on the table and rested his head on them, trying to even out his breathing. I hope your fucking car crashes.
Chapter 8: All the Shattered Ones
There is a detailed description of solitary confinement and anxiety and claustrophobia in this chapter.
The cell was tiny. That was the first thing Jason noticed when the CO shoved him into it. The first few minutes hadn't been bad. But a few hours in, he felt like the walls were closing in around him, like he couldn’t breathe.
It was for his own good.
That’s what the COs had told him, at least.
Couldn’t put him back in gen-pop without risking more injury. Couldn’t throw him in a different pod because he’d been labeled violent and unpredictable. Yeah right. He hadn't even fought back, not that it seemed to matter to any of the people in charge. Maybe he should have fought back. Maybe then people would think twice before fucking with him again.
The sounds were the worst part.
He knew it was going to be bad when the officers were escorting him through the segregation wing, roughly dragging him by the elbow like he had done something wrong. Like he deserved to be there. Like it was his own damn fault his fellow inmate had beaten the shit out of him.
He had never heard screaming quite like he heard coming from that hall. Inhuman, animalistic screaming. And he’d been naive enough to think that the people behind the reinforced doors were overreacting. That being stuck in seg really couldn’t be that bad. Twenty-three hours of quiet and no one to fuck with him? It had sounded like heaven at the time.
But not even a day into his ‘protective custody,’ Jason felt like he was losing his mind. The room was suffocating. The walls were closing in. He couldn’t breathe… He could hear someone banging on the shared wall, screaming to be let out. Could hear a CO down the hall screaming at an inmate to shut the fuck up.
He almost preferred to take his chances back in the pod. At least then he could take more than a few steps before running back into a wall. At least then, he could have people to talk to so he could try to keep sane.
He’d learned early on to eat what he was given. One hot meal a day at breakfast, two cold meals after that. The COs seemed to take some sort of sick pleasure in opening up the little slot and shoving the tray through, without so much as a word when they passed by.
He had never minded silence before. Silence meant that he wasn’t getting in trouble. Silence meant Roman and his men were far away and would leave him alone, at least for a little while. But silence in his tiny cell? That was maddening. Every little thing echoed. Every thought in his head was amplified times ten.
He was beginning to understand why the other inmates had been screaming.
Why was he the one being punished?
He hadn't done anything wrong.
He hadn't asked for his podmates to beat the shit out of him. And hell, wasn’t that the understatement of the year. And the nurse? She’d just given him a bandaid and an Advil and told him to suck it up. Never mind the fact his head was pounding and his vision was blurry, and God, he needed a
Take the gun.
The words kept echoing in his head. Take the gun. Take the gun. Take the gun.
How could he have been so damn stupid?
He tried to calm down, to catch his breath. He lay down on the pathetic excuse for a bed and shut his eyes tightly, trying to ignore the feeling that the walls were closing in around him. The feeling that he was going to be left in that teeny tiny cell to rot and that no one was ever going to find him.
Take the gun.
Suddenly being a snitch didn’t seem so bad.
Except Roman would kill him. Slowly and painfully. Hell. He’d probably do it himself too if he were pissed enough. Roman wouldn’t get caught. He never got caught… And Jason would be a dead man walking as soon as he gave that name away.
But he couldn’t do 65 years of this. He couldn’t….
I didn’t do it.
It sure as hell looks like you did.
Roman had promised to get him out of this. Roman had promised he’d get off easy. You’re a minor, kid. You’ll be out in no time at all.
He grabbed his hair and stared up at the ceiling, trying to ignore the walls closing in on him, every last voice in his head screaming at him to take the damn plea. I just want to go home.
Jason was familiar with anger, with fury. He’d seen it on his father enough times. He’d seen it on Roman more times than he could count. He knew the way people’s faces twisted, the way their cheeks reddened as their blood pressure rose, the way their knuckles turned white and the way their jaw clenched.
Anger on Willis and on Roman had always scared him. But anger on Diana? Now that was terrifying .
He had never been more relieved to leave a place than when a CO had escorted him out of his cramped cell and to a meeting room he was sure was tiny but didn’t hold a candle to where he’d been staying.
“They can’t do this,” she shook her head furiously, and Jason sighed and stared up at the ceiling. They couldn’t do half the shit they pulled. He was sure of that. But that didn’t stop them. Who would a judge believe? A kid accused of murder or an adult officer? Yeah. He wouldn’t take that bet. Not if his life depended on it. “You did nothing wrong.”
“It’s fine,” Jason lied, even though it was the furthest thing from fine. What was the alternative? Going back in the pod where he’d be beaten again, probably worse that time around? Harper was gone. Roman wasn’t going to do shit to help him. He was fucked either way.
“I’ll speak with someone,” she promised, and Jason watched as she sat back down across from him. Of course she would. Someone was always talking to someone else about him. COs talked to the warden. The other boys talked among themselves. Diana communicated with Dent and the judge. What the hell did his input even matter anymore? He watched as she slowly started to calm down. As the red slowly disappeared from her face and the color slowly returned to her hands. “Have you thought about the plea?”
Oh he’d definitely thought about it. Ten years was a lot, but it was nothing on the alternative if they lost. When we lose… But, contrary to what everyone else seemed to think, he valued his life. He didn’t want to die. He definitely didn’t want that bastard to kill him. “I told you I ain’t a snitch.”
Diana sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, and Jason listened as she took a deep breath before speaking again. “It’s the best they’re going to offer you, Jason.”
“I don’t want it.”
He wondered when he’d gotten so good at lying, when words just trailed off his tongue like they were nothing, like he believed them. Maybe if he could convince everyone else it was true, he could start to believe it himself…
He took a deep breath before glancing back over at Diana. In all the time they’d spent together, he’d noticed something, but wasn’t sure if he should bring it up. Oh well. If he was going to hell, he may as well ask while he could. “You never asked if I did it.”
He watched Diana sigh again and rub her temples. He had expected her to ask if he had done it, but she didn’t And the words that did come out? Made his heart sink even more. “It doesn’t matter.”
They all think you did.
Chapter 9: Psychological Evaluation of Jason P. Todd
I am not a medical nor mental health professional. Nothing in this chapter should be considered as medical advice / diagnosis.
Patient Name: Jason Todd
Cause #: 41D01-1901-MR-431
Date of Evaluation: 4/15/2019
Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders
Attending Physician: Guy Gardner, LCSW
Jason Peter Todd is a 15 year old Caucasian male being interviewed today for recommendation of transfer from segregation to general population. Mr. Todd was evaluated in an interview room housed inside the Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders. The evaluation was held at the request of Chief Public Defender, Diana Prince, and was so ordered by the senior judge of Gotham County Superior Court One. Mr. Todd was informed copies of this report would be given to the Chief Public Defender’s Office, Office of the Gotham County District Attorney, Gotham Superior Court One, as well as various staff members of the juvenile detention facility. Mr. Todd acknowledged his understanding of this and agreed to proceed with the interview.
History of Present Illness:
Jason Peter Todd is an underdeveloped 15 year old Caucasian male being held in segregation at the Gotham Metro Facility for Juvenile Offenders. He has been held in the segregation unit for two weeks following assault from a fellow detainee. His father was murdered by an associate of the Black Mask, and his mother died of a heroin overdose. He has been made a ward of the State of New Jersey. Mr. Todd is affiliated with the Black Mask gang and is being held on felony-murder and armed robbery charges, awaiting trial. Mr. Todd was waived from juvenile court to criminal court. No bond was set.
Patient affirms depressive thoughts and occasional suicidal ideation. Patient reports extreme bouts of anxiety and states he sometimes feels as though he cannot breathe. Patient was unable to maintain eye contact throughout the interview, but gave answers in a clear and concise manner with no obvious signs of cognitive impairment. He reported extreme stress, and I observed him to be restless and anxious. He told me several times that he does not like talking about his life or the circumstances leading up to his arrest.
Patient affirms history of physical and sexual abuse and appeared to be uncomfortable discussing said history.
Mr. Todd is currently in a period of extreme instability at this time. He was visibly agitated, though he did answer questions appropriately. I do observe elements of mood disorder and anxiety.
Psychiatric History: Patient denies any prior inpatient or outpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Patient has significant history of substance abuse, including alcohol and marijuana. He states marijuana is his drug of choice and that he has been unable to maintain any significant period of sobriety. Mr. Todd stated he has been clean since being moved to segregation, however. He is not currently taking any medication for any physical or mental illness, nor has he taken medication for any psychiatric illness in the past.
Patient denies history of self-mutilation. Patient affirms occasional suicidal ideation, but denies intent or plan. Patient denies homicidal ideation, intent, and plan.
Past Medical History: No acute or chronic medical illness
Current Medications: None
Family History: Patient affirms family history of substance abuse and mental illness.
Developmental History: Patient affirms history of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of various ‘friends of the family’ as well as members of the Black Mask gang, though he refused to give any identifying information for the individuals in question. This discussion caused visible frustration and agitation in Mr. Todd, and Mr. Todd stated he was unwilling to discuss the issue further with me. He did state that his father threatened to kill him and his mother on more than one occasion.
Mental Status Examination: Young Caucasian male who appeared to be disheveled and poorly groomed appeared to be experiencing signs of acute distress and discomfort. He was awake and oriented times four. His mood was anxious and depressed. His speech was fluent and goal directed. His thought process was organized. No paranoia or delusional behavior was observed. Patient denies any hallucinations. His insight and judgment remain fairly intact.
Axis I: Major Depression, Polysubstance Dependence
Axis II: Deferred
Axis III: None
Axis IV: Severe psychological stressors
Axis V: Current GAF of 42
Discussion: Patient presents with severe depression and potential post-traumatic stress disorder. Patient presents with history of physical and sexual abuse. He had a poor relationship with both parents, did not have a good upbringing, and stopped attending school in the sixth grade. He has never received help for any of the problems as listed above. He is overwhelmed and anxious, and these symptoms appear to be aggravated by being detained in segregation. He appears unstable at the present point in time.
Opinion: Jason Peter Todd should be returned to general population and should be further evaluated by a board certified psychiatrist for formal diagnosis and treatment.
/s/ Guy Gardner, Licensed Clinical Social Worker