Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are over-represented in Australian youth detention centres and the justice system. In contrast to deficit-focused approaches to health and justice research, this article engages with the hopes, relationships and educational experiences of 38 detained youth in Western Australia who participated in a study of screening and diagnosis for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. We report on a qualitative study that used a 'social yarning' approach. While the participants reported lives marred by substance use, crime, trauma and neurodevelopmental disability, they also spoke of strong connections to country and community, their education experiences and their future goals. In line with new efforts for a 'positive youth justice' and extending on models of recovery capital, we argue that we must celebrate success and hope through a process of mapping and building recovery capital in the justice context at an individual and institutional level.