In a court decision that has prompted criticism over the United States’ correction system, a 17-year-old girl in Detroit was sentenced to five years in adult prison for giving a law enforcement official an “intimidating look.”
Jamie, a pseudonym used by the Huffington Post, was seen fighting with a family friend for which she was sentenced to two consecutive six-month periods in prison. She was then re-sentenced to more time in adult prison cells for her apparent “misconduct” during confinement, according to officials.
Jamie “failed in every instance" to comply with the conditions laid out by the judge during her confinement, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said.
However, her records show that Jamie maintained fairly normal behavior except for two instances. She was issued a ticket when she yelled at a prison inmate who had slapped her on the back of her head. She got another when she refused to take down her door window cover, claiming she was “changing her clothes” and needed privacy.
The officer in the latter incident wrote in his court statement that Jamie stared at him “the whole time with an intimidating look on her face.”
After the two tickets were presented to the judge, Jamie’s sentence was changed from six months in prison to five years and eleven months in the adult cell.
In reference to the incident, Jamie stated in a Huffington Post interview: "It’s hard to be here when you’re young, not having everything explained to you.”
Advocates maintain that teenagers cannot be put into adult cells, since they are not equipped to deal with them. “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. She added that misbehaving teenagers should be seen as young people going through a bad day, rather than someone who is a threat to the community.