Young Ex-Con Dashes Hopes, May Lose Freedom Again

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At left, Donzell Mintz at Curtis Cafe in June 2013, in photo taken by Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. At right, an image of Mintz in custody that was released by the Cook County Sheriffs Department.
At left, Donzell Mintz at Curt's Cafe in June 2013, in a photo taken by Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. At right, an image of Mintz in custody that was released by the Cook County Sheriff's Department.

We first spoke with Donzell Mintz back in 2009 when he was a teenager who'd already been in juvenile detention.

Not long after that he went to prison for armed robbery.

When Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson spoke with him back in June on a visit to Chicago, 21-year-old Donzell had just been paroled and was once again trying to get his life back together.

He had just started a job training program in Evanston at Curt's Cafe, which has a mission of helping at-risk young people find jobs.

But once again Mintz is in trouble with the law.

He faces charges that he forced a 14-year-old runaway he'd met in Chicago into prostitution and drug-dealing, and fractured the girl's jaw and broke some of her teeth in a fight.

Susan Trieschmann, who founded Curt's Cafe, is devastated.

Interview Highlights: Susan Trieschmann

On What Went Wrong

"What went wrong is that when he left here, he had to go back to a very dangerous neighborhood. What went wrong is that we didn't school him when he was in prison at first, and we didn't help him get services that he needed. What happened is he went on over 20 interviews and no one would hire him because of his background, because of his lack of education, because of his inability to write. What happened is that we couldn't get him a job, although we did keep trying, and we hadn't given up on him. But because of that, he still has to eat, he still has to get through his days, and I think some of those choices were based on that. But also, from what the students here have told me, there's two stories. And we're definitely, definitely, sensitive to the victim, and totally hold her in our hearts, but we need to hear from Donzell what really happened."

On Ending The Cycle

"I think we all have to take responsibility. People that do hire people need to understand that just because these kids made a mistake, these young adults, that that is not who that person is. There are reasons often that they make these choices. I think neighborhoods need to come together a little bit stronger — sit on the front porch instead of the back porch and hold these kids accountable to the right behavior. I think the government needs to take responsibility: if we do incarcerate these our young people that we're teaching them when they're inside — that we're giving them strong mentors while they're on the inside. I think when these kids get out, we need to help them find services that will feed them. You know, if you send a kid out of prison and he has no where to stay, they are literally homeless. We have so many homeless kids, I can't even explain it to you. Where do we expect them to eat? Where do we expect them to sleep? We need to help them with these things. A 20-year-old is not always able to find these resources."


This segment aired on October 17, 2013.


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