10/11/2011

Teen charged as adult faces big changes


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Now that a judge has declared the teen accused of shooting a schoolmate in March will be tried as an adult, he is facing very different circumstances.
If convicted as a juvenile, Michael Phelps, 15, could have been staying at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Madison County, one of five state facilities that incarcerated juveniles can be assigned to in Indiana.
It is a high-security facility for males. The atmosphere is relaxed. The kids go to school full time, work on their high school diplomas, and receive counseling. The goal is to get the kids rehabilitated and released.

"A lot of the kids who come into the juvenile system, eight out of 10 aren’t going to commit an adult crime and will go on to be a good citizen" said Mike Dempsey, executive director of Indiana's Division of Youth Services.
But Phelps, who police said shot Chance Jackson, also 15, on March 25 at Martinsville West Middle School, will now live in a different world as his court hearings continue. He faces the possibility of joining the 50 or fewer juveniles convicted as adults currently held by the Indiana Department of Corrections.
Life for these kids is far different from what those in a juvenile facility experience. They are sent to the Youth Offender Program at the DOC’s Wabash Valley Correctional Facility , where they are segregated from the adult population until they turn 18. Then they are placed with the adults.

The DOC said currently 28,618 people are incarcerated in Indiana. Less than 2 percent – 613 - are juveniles. Less than 0.5 percent – 50 or fewer – are juveniles convicted as adults. National statistics show nearly 7,500 youths are locked up in adult jails on any given day
Statistics also show that kids who serve time in adult prison systems are 34% more likely to be rearrested for violent or other crime, when compared to kids who serve time in juvenile facilities.

But there’s no going back for Phelps now. While 36 states provide judges with the option to suspend an adult sentence in favor of a placement in the juvenile system, Indiana does not.
"Once you’re waived to adult court, you’re not coming back," Dempsey said.
Teen charged as adult faces big changes http://t.co/t5YhBEL

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