criminal justice

Jamie Rykse was sent to an adult prison after a home invasion when she was 17. "I had been to hell and back," she says now. "I needed help."
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

For the past few years, a campaign has been building to change how Michigan handles 17-year-olds who commit crimes.

As it stands now, those 17-year-olds are automatically charged as adults, and – when convicted – sent to adult prisons.

Advocates say Michigan is one of only seven states in the nation that still do this. And, in the next few weeks, they’re hoping to finally push through a law to change it.

The law already has a lot to say about turning 18. That’s the age you can vote, the age you can join the military, and buy a pack of cigarettes.

Handcuffed man
houstondwiphotos mp / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

If you've ever filled out a job application, I'm sure you've come across the question asking whether you've ever been convicted of a criminal offense.

For someone who was formerly incarcerated, having to check "yes" can make it nearly impossible to find a job or a place to live.

user Kate Ter Haar / Flickr

Yesterday we heard from an ex-con about what it was like for him to transition from life behind bars to life on the outside. He says having a mentor helped a lot – someone to whom he felt a true sense of responsibility – and he didn't want to screw it up by doing something bad and winding up back in prison. 

I asked a handful of other former inmates to share their advice for those who are about to or are in the midst of transitioning back into society. Here are their answers:

What advice would you give to inmates who are about to re-enter society?

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

How do you navigate life on the outside after you’ve been locked up in prison for years? That’s a question more than 6,000 federal inmates recently faced when they were released early from prison due to changes in how the government sentences drug criminals.

So what does it take to successfully re-enter society?

We put that question to Tim Hurley, an ex-con who did two stints in prison. He says having a mentor once he got out helped him transition big time. 

Thinking outside the box for families after prison

Nov 6, 2015
Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons

Each year, more than 600,000 adults are released from prison in the United States. Half of them return home to a child under the age of 18.  

When it comes to providing for a family after incarceration, having a criminal record is one of the biggest obstacles. It can be nearly impossible for formerly incarcerated parents to find a job or a place to live.