Author of YA & Adult fiction
Elle Cosimano



Many readers of HOLDING SMOKE responded that the story made them think differently–that it opened their mind to questions about youthful offenders and their lives. Many expressed a curiosity to understand more about the world in which Smoke, Ben, and Martín lived.

Research was tough for this book. Because of privacy laws surrounding juvenile offenders, I was unable to physically tour a youth correctional facility, so I relied heavily on documentaries, news articles, and first-hand accounts by professionals who’ve worked in these kinds of environments. While the “Y” in HOLDING SMOKE is a fictional setting, it’s based on details gleaned from very real places.

Here’s a look into some of my research. I’m including links to videos that will take you inside a few of these facilities, and into the day-to-day experiences of those who live and work within them. I’ll also include some links to websites and articles below. Note, not all of these are prisons. Some are jails or detention centers, which house juveniles awaiting trial. Some are prisons/correctional facilities/rehabilitation facilities, where juveniles might serve out their time after conviction and sentencing.

If you connected with Smoke and you loved his story, please consider leaving a review on your favorite retail site.

Thanks for reading!

(Below: not a similar facility to the Y, but an example of a riot and escape in a youth detention facility.)

Pendleton in Indiana:


Pendleton in the news:


Pine Grove in Pennsylvania:


Joliet in Illionois:


Okeechobee in FL:




Red Rock Academy/Summit View in Nevada:–state-inmates/
 (A re-purposed max sec adult facility used as a max sec youth prison, as was the case with the “Y” in HOLDING SMOKE.)


For those looking for an compelling non-fiction book on the subject, Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth by John Hubner is an inside look into the Giddings State School in Texas, which was designated a max sec juvenile correctional facility in 1980 and has housed some of the states most violent youth offenders. (In Holding Smoke, the ideas for the warden’s mentor program and his conference in Texas were inspired by the programs instituted by this prison.)


26, 2016 |

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