The Memphis Commercial Appeal followed Cherry Adams, 16, for six months as she tries to escape a life of crime, drugs, and a poor education. She is growing up in a family and neighborhood that epitomize Memphis’ epic struggle with crime and poverty. She is already among the 22,495 young people who’ve been through Shelby County Juvenile Court at least once since 2005.
A recent study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University found high school dropouts ages 16 to 24 were 63 times more likely to get locked up than four-year college graduates. Doug Imig, a research fellow at the Urban Child Institute, says children learn what they live. And for those who don’t see grown-ups going to work or siblings getting high school or college degrees, that life path has little resonance.