I remember the first news stories that came out of Pontiac, Michigan about 11-year-old Nathaniel Abraham being arrested for killing another youth with a .22 rifle. He was charged as an adult with first degree murder. He was subsequently convicted of second degree and given a juvenile offender's sentence where he would be released at age 21.
He's soon turning 21 and officials are concerned that after being locked up in the state's toughest juvenile offender environment, Abraham might have problems adjusting to life on his own.
The cost for his incarceration and for all the social workers and psychologists who worked with him was pegged at more than $850,000, according to this morning's Detroit News.
Michigan taxpayers and those in any other state with tough juvenile offender laws need to ask some very serious questions of their lawmakers and of the state's criminal justice and corrections establishment.
State lawmakers need to be tripping over themselves to ask how effective Michigan's tough juvenile offender laws were in changing Abraham or any other youth.
The Detroit News story quotes the continuum of professionals who worked with Abraham who spent a decade of his life locked up. These professionals describe him as having problems with anger and other inter-personal challenges. No kidding.
Try being locked up in any Michigan prison as an adult, let alone as an 11-year-old and you will have problems melding back into society.
Michigan legislators need to hold aggressive oversight hearings on this whole topic and they need to learn how successful their punitive attitudes have been. Do they change behavior? Is there a better and cheaper way?
For more than $850,000, a whole lot of kids could have been helped, including Abraham, by using other measures.
How many more kids in Michigan are spending the formative part of their youth in destructive environments being locked up with little or no hope after they get out?