Center for Public Integrity

Minor Offenders, Major Consequences

Published Dec 11, 2011

Two days after Christmas 2005, Kirk Gunderson hanged himself with a sheet looped around a smoke detector in his solitary confinement cell in the La Crosse County Jail. He was 17. He formed letters out of moistened, rolled up toilet paper to spell the message: “I’m sorry 143 family.” The number is slang for “I love you” — one letter in I, four letters in love, and three letters in you. Gunderson was in adult jail for stabbing his father and brother. Although he faced attempted murder charges, his family says what he really needed was mental health services — which he could have received in the juvenile justice system — to deal with the effects of head injuries from sports and Oxycontin abuse… Read the rest here.

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