In a correctional facility in Detroit, once a month, hardened adult inmates do something rather rare: sit quietly in a circle and discuss their lives with complete strangers. Those strangers, male youth from across Michigan who were referred from a variety of state agencies, are here to listen to the reality of the aftermath of a criminal life through the Youth Deterrent Program.
Not surprisingly, these truths have an extraordinary impact on juveniles, often from bad neighborhoods, and sometimes just beginning to run afoul of the law.
The Detroit Free Press details how the inmates and young men share stories of lost parents, the fallacies of gang life, and how their own children are left fatherless as they serve long terms behind bars.
Preliminary results are encouraging. The first group of participants, about 100 youth, after hearing the hard truth about criminal activity thus far have avoided any serious trouble in the almost two years after completing their program work, according to the program director.
While this is not a panacea for all juvenile delinquency, showing juveniles how a life of crime usually ends up may be, for some, exactly what they needed to hear.