Jonathan McClard was barely 17 years old when he killed himself, just days before he would be placed in general population at a maximum security prison. McClard had shot and injured another boy in Jackson, Mo., in a fight over a girl. He pleaded guilty to the crime and was set to serve 30 years behind bars.
His mother, Tracy, believes he killed himself because he was terrified of the new prison. Yesterday, she testified to a House committee and asked Congress to keep teenagers out of adult prisons. She also wants jails to keep young offenders separate from adult ones. Youth Today, an specialty paper, covered the hearing:
“When children are put in with adults they die, physically or mentally,” McClard told the committee.
A while back, I checked with Missouri's corrections department about the age limits and was told that 17-year-olds tried as adults are sent to adult prisons. McClard said her son's case could have been handled by the state's dual-sentencing program, where young offenders are placed in juvenile correction before going to adult prison.