Histories of several jailed offenders reveal they were victimized in their childhoods long before they became adult offenders.
Thousands of prison inmates became prisoners as a direct or remote consequence of their childhood experiences. A case in point is that of 43-year-old Rob Sullivan, who just got released from the Enfield Correctional Institution.
Sullivan was one of the 10 prisoners newly released from Connecticut. The New York Times and the PBS series “Frontline” have been following these 10 recently discharged prisoners for over a year. Several studies carried out on the ex-inmates when they were inside revealed they were victims long before they became perpetrators. The New York Times details the story of Rob Sullivan.
Jailed offenders: Sullivan Had a Gun Put to His Head as a Child, and Ended Up In Prison as an Adult
Sullivan had a gun put to his head as a child, and ended up in prison as an adult. He remembered a childhood experience when robbers broke into his parents’ home. One of the robbers placed a gun to his temple and demanded for the drug money his father stashed away. He had been six years old at the time.
His mother suffered domestic violence from his father and took to drugs. His father was also a terrible alcoholic and both parents unleashed their frustration on the young Rob.
They sometimes got too stoned and locked him out. And in his teens, he landed in juvenile detention for truancy charges. “Chaotic — there is no other way to describe my childhood,” he said. “I always felt alone.”
Sullivan spent much of his lifetime in and out of prisons and drug rehab centers. His mother died of heroin overdose when he was 21 and a cousin also died of drug overdose when he was 25. He had two teardrops tattooed under his right eye – one for his mother and the other for his cousin. During one of his many sojourns to jails, he passed his father, a fellow inmate, in the hallway of a prison facility.
Jailed offenders: Childhood Abuse Shapes Addictive and Criminal Behavior in Adulthood
A sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Christopher Wildeman, disclosed several studies point to the fact that abused children often end up in jails and prisons as adult offenders.
“Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,” said Christopher Wildeman. “It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.”
He added childhood experiences shape individuals into who they eventually become as adults. And how they are wired to make rational decisions that shape their lives. This according to experts, mean that the trouble with individuals start long before they are even conscious of what it happening to them and how it might impact their future.