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. 

Kashfi Halford / Flickr Creative Commons

 Michigan has more reasons now than ever before to consider juvenile justice reform. Something to add to the list: a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The report zeroes in on what deters kids from committing crimes in the first place. Most of what we know about recidivism is based on adults. Very few studies have been done with juveniles – until now.  

user miss_millions / flickr

If you're 17 and you commit a crime in Michigan, you are automatically sentenced as an adult. You can't even vote yet, and you're sentenced as an adult. There are only nine states that try 17-year olds as adults, and Michigan is one of them. According to The Marshall Project, there seems to be some momentum to "raise the age" of an adult from 17 to 18 in North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin.

see ming lee / flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two opinions today that, in a practical matter, mean more to low-income families than to anyone else.

There is the Affordable Care Act decision, which protects health insurance coverage of those people who need government subsidies to afford the cost of health care on the exchanges.

aapo haapanen

By now, many of you know about the tragic story out of the Bronx this weekend. 

Kalief Browder was sent to Rikers Island in 2010 when he was 16 years old. He never had a trial or a criminal conviction (the original accusation was that he took a backpack), but he was forced to stay there for three years anyway. Browder struggled after his release, and on Saturday he took his own life.

Kevin Dooley / flickr

Michigan has been scolding  "you're going to pay for that!" to young offenders across the state for close to two decades. 

This punishment comes in forms traditional to criminal justice: juvenile detention, jail for those 17 and older, probation, parole. Increasingly though, it also means that young offenders must literally find the money to pay a host of costs to courts and sheriff's departments across the state. 

David Trawin

The city of Ferguson, Mo., and another nearby town, Jennings, Mo., are the target of a new civil rights lawsuit aimed at what has been called modern day "debtors prison."

The lawsuit alleges citizens in Ferguson are routinely jailed because they can't pay fines associated with a wide range of minor infractions like unpaid parking tickets.  

Ingham County

As we were prepping for our special on juvenile justice, we had a chat with one of our guests, Scott Leroy from Ingham County's juvenile justice programs. We wanted to know  how the Lansing area ended up with some pretty innovative programs for kids who get in trouble with the law. 

State of Opportunity special: juvenile justice in Michigan

Jan 15, 2015

Today we brought you a special, hour-long call-in show on Michigan’s juvenile justice system.

Host Jennifer White was joined by guests Frank Vandervort from the University of Michigan Law School, Scott Leroy from Ingham County courts, educator and activist Shaka Senghor (his TED talk is below), and Marie Williams from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ). The show explored the consequences of incarcerating kids in adult prisons, discussed alternative options for juvenile offenders, and asked what is the future of juvenile justice in Michigan.