Behind every crime headline there is mountain of tragedy for everyone involved. Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Southwestern Indiana is a vault for these headlines. Twenty one hundred prisoners locked up for everything from rape to murder.
Wabash is also unlike any other adult prison in the state of Indiana. It is home to a cell-block of 53 kids sentenced as adults, who aren't even close to being ready for what lies behind the bars.
Fifteen year old Colt Lundy is at the start of thirty year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit murder and a shooting death of his stepfather. He and a twelve year old accomplice were caught in Illinois after the boys fled in the victim's car. What would drive two kids, neither of whom ever had a brush with the law, to commit such an unthinkable act?
Report show no real explanation and neither boy chose to talk about the specifics of the crime. Teenagers like Colt Lundy and his roommate are not alone. Across the United States nearly ten thousand kids under the age of eighteen are serving time in adult prisons and jails.
In Indiana all kids sentenced as adults are incarcerated in the youth unit inside the massive Wabash compound, without all prisoners kept separate in neighboring cell-blocks. The young offenders are isolated from their adult counterparts. Kids eat there, recreate there, and go to school there. For most kids time literally seems to stand still. But once a youth offender turns eighteen they're transitioned out of the youth unit and into the adult population, either in Wabash or at one of Indian's twenty one other adult facilities.
At sixteen, Miles Folsom was sentenced for felony robbery and criminal confinement charges. He still keeps a local newspaper headline from what he calls "the worst day of his life." Some might find it hard to reconcile the Miles in the newspaper story with the Miles inside Wabash, because Folsom is one of the highest performing students in the youth unit and serves as an educational tutor for new kids. Soon to be eighteen he has earned his GED in prison and also has a job in the kitchen with the clean-up crew.
It's hard to wrap your head around the different types of kids at Wabash. From Colt Lundy, a fifteen year old with no history in the system doing thirty years for conspiracy to commit murder, to eighteen year old Robert serving a two year sentence for battery and threatening to kill a police officer.
When it comes to kids and punishment, the question needs to be answered: Do kids, no matter what the crime, belong in the adult prison?