refused to move me out of there, I setnone of the rooms on fire. My caseworkernthen had me sent to Lake Bluff, Illinois,nwhere I was put in another group homenfor about two months, until I ran awaynagain. When they caught me this time,nI had broken so many laws that theynsent me on my 13th birthday to a juvenilenfacility of the Illinois Department ofnCorrections. There I got into a gangnknown as the Black Gangster Disciples.nI joined the gang because I wanted to bensomething, to accomplish something,nand I tried very hard to do what I was toldnso that I could get promoted within thenranks of the gang. Biecause of all the gangnfights I got into, I was transferred to thenstate’s maximum-security facility for juveniles.nIn 1982, while on a home visit, Inbroke into some homes and stole guns,nmoney, and anything else I could carry innmy hands. I gave one of the guns I hadnstolen to my brother, and it was with thisngun that he committed murder. Thencourt judged me a “juvenile habitualnoffender,” and I was sentenced until myn21st birthday to the Department of Corrections.nI was now 15 years old.nI was sent back to the maximum-securitynfacility for the next three years, wherenI fought other gang members, guards, andnanyone who crossed my path. I becamena Junior Captain in the gang, whichnLIBERAL ARTS-nTORTS AND TARTSnA Manhattan law firm has askednthe ethics committee of the NewnYork County Lawyers’ Associationnwhether it is “acceptable fornfemale lawyers to wear pants suitsnin court.” According to the NewnYork Times last January, a lawyernfor the unidentified firm “fearednthat women wearing pants, suits inncourt runs afoul of provisions ofnthe Code of Professional Responsibilitynthat lawyers ben’dignified,’ ‘refrain from morallynreprehensible conduct’ and ‘notnengage in conduct that offendsnthe dignity and decorum’ of courtnproceedings.”n40/CHRONICLESnmeant that I could tell any junior membersnwhat to do and how I wanted, itdone.nSometimes I had to hurtpeople fornthe gang and a lot of it I didn’t want tondo, but at that time all I felt like doingnwas making myself known. I could gainnno higher rank in the gang at this timenand could only move up by getting outnand back on the streets or by getting intonprison. Then, in January 1985, somethingnsurprising happened: I was set free.nI had always thought I would be at thenjuvenile facility until I was 21.1 was thenn18 years old.nI was released back to my mother, andnwithin six weeks of being out I wasnappointed Head Enforcer of the streetngang. This meant that I kept all the gunsnfor the gang, and if someone owed thengang money, it was my job to get it backnanyway possible. If one of our membersnhad broken one of our laws, it was my jobnto carry out whatever punishment thengang thought necessary, and if anotherngang tried to sell drugs on our streets, itnwas my job to put a stop to it.nA lot of the older members did not likenthe fact that I was so young and had sonmuch say in the gang. So for the next sixnmonths I set out to prove myself to everyonenwho thought I couldn’t handle thenjob and responsibility. Within eightnmonths I saw that I was headed for eithernprison or death. In my heart I wanted outnof all this madness, but my mind was setnon being known on the streets. I wasnarrested on October 15, 1985, forn”accountability,” for being an accessorynto armed robbery, aggravated battery,naggravated kidnapping, attempted murder,nand home invasion. I hadn’t committednthese particular crimes—^an armedngang member had broken into a hooker’snhouse, where rival gang members werenknown to hang out, and stolen $200 andna bag of pot—but I knew the guy in thengang who was responsible and Inwouldn’t identify him. For this I wasnsentenced on June 26,1986, to 15 yearsnin prison.nWhile at the county jail, awaiting trialnand sentencing, I signed up for highnschool equivalency courses. My reasonnwas to get out of my cell, and school wasnthe only way to do this. Most of the guysnin the class I knew from the streets, so Inthought I’d just come to class to talk andnsee everyone. But the teacher thoughtndifferently and didn’t put up with my b.s.nI was mad at the world, but this teachernsaw past all the bad things about menand tried to show me that I could learn.nnnAt that’ time, if someone had told men”that this teacher and I and his family werengoing to become the best of friends, Inwould have said they were crazy. Henkicked me out of class in the beginningnfor not wanting to learn and for not lettingnanyone else learn. He let me back in,nbut the same thing happened. Afternabout two weeks of being out of class hencame to my cell in “seg,” meaning segregationnor solitary confinement, wherenI had been placed for smarting off. Henmade it clear that I was going nowherenin life, and that only I could change mynfuture. He agreed to let me back intonclass—^against the lieutenant’s suggestionnthat I be allowed to rot in “the Hole”—nif I paid attention and worked and triednnot to take over the class. And I did whatnhe said. I passed all of the exams, got mynhigh school diploma, and then becamenhis aide, tutoring other inmates how tonread and study for their degree. Thisnsurprised everyone.nA lot of people said I was going tonschool only because I wanted to lookngood for the court when sentencing timencame, but I really didn’t care what peoplenthought, because I could see andnfeel a change in myself. When I was sentencednto 15 years, I knew the only waynpeople would believe that I wanted tonchange was to give up what I had tried son. hard to be, a “gang chief.”nThe prison I was sent to just happenednto be run by the very gang I had belongednto for most of my life, and if you were anmember of this gang you would not wantnfor anything. I knew that if I was goingnto be strong and give up this life, I wouldnhave to do this here and I could not putnit off. So when I walked through thendoor I let everyone know that I was nonlonger active in the gang. At first Inthought that everything was going tonwork out with no problem, until the gangntold me that I had to remove the gang’snsymbol—a tattoo of a six-point star—fromnmy arm. One day some of the gang membersntold me that I would have to stab annofficer for the gang or die. I reported thisnand went into p.c. (protective custody),nwhich means solitary confinement. Afternabout four months of going crazy in p.c,nI was transferred to another mediumsecuritynfacility.nI liked this place a lot, because it wasnclose enough for me to have two or threenvisits a month from my ex-teacher andnhis family and I could enroll in collegenclasses, ihad high hopes that I could staynout of trouble and at the same time studyn