‘The only misconduct tickets she received prior to the new sentence were for defying an order and giving a guard an ‘intimidating look,’ and yelling…’
Youths sentenced to adult prisons in Michigan are protesting with lawsuits.
Plaintiffs are suing Michigan for mistreating youth held in the adult prison system, the Huffington Post reported.
One of the plaintiffs is Jamie, a 17-year-old girl from Detroit who was originally sentenced to two concurrent terms of six months for throwing a brick at a family friend. (A police report noted that the brick may not have hit the friend). She was sent to serve time in the adult prison system, but she was referred back to court for resentencing, after prison officials reported her for “misconduct” she committed while she was there.
“The only misconduct tickets she received prior to the new sentence were for defying an order and giving a guard an ‘intimidating look,’ and yelling at an inmate who allegedly had slapped her on the back of the head,” the Post reported.
A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections said that she “failed in every instance” to live up to the conditions the judge laid out.
During the court hearing, prison officials told the judge that the girl had “no motivation to be involved” in peer groups and missed school, which she was required to attend. But investigations by the Post revealed that Jamie was in segregation (not for disciplinary reasons), which prevented her from attending school.
Her sentencing judge, James Chylinski, revoked Jamie’s special youth status, which would have cleared her record after the completion of her time. Instead, the judge changed her sentence from six months in prison to 11 months to a maximum of five years.
Judge Chylinski said, for kids who come from unstable environments, the youth program, where some kids serve their time in adult prisons, is an opportunity, “like sending them away to college.” He added, “It’s actually an effort to try to help them, to lock them up; it’s less punishment and more trying to rehabilitate them, making them go to school.”
“At 17, you are literally still going through puberty and hormones are changing,” said Kristen Staley, associate director of youth justice policy at the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. “Moreover, factors such as early trauma or mental illness can stunt this growth… MDOC staff is not thoroughly trained to handle teenagers and this incident is clear indication of that.”