Local News

Raleigh man recognized for turning his life around

Posted June 16, 2009
Updated June 17, 2009

— A Raleigh man is crediting the state's juvenile justice system for helping him turn his life around. This comes as the department is facing huge budget cuts that may eliminate some of the programs aimed at helping troubled youth.

"Most of them (juveniles) come from the same environment that I come from,” Michael Cox said.

Cox said he has few happy memories of his childhood.

"My mom, she was a good mom, until my dad went off to prison when I was 7 years old,” he said.

Cox said his mother turned to drugs, and he and his brothers were sent to foster care where they were abused.

"They said, 'We never be anything, we would be just like our mom, we would always be in trouble,'” Cox recalled.

Cox said he turned to crime and was locked up by the age of 12. He spent six years in and out of juvenile detention centers for various crimes.

Former troubled teen throws support behind juvenile system Former delinquent throws support behind system

Cox then met social worker Barbara Green, who inspired him.

"You know, she believed in me. She often said whatever I wanted to do, she would support me,” Cox said.

Green was by his side last month when Cox received the national Spirit of Youth Award in Washington, D.C. The award is given to young adults who have successfully been through the juvenile system.

Earlier this month, the House Subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety proposed slashing spending for the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by $36 million.

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Secretary Linda Hayes said Cox's story is proof the system works.

"He is now a taxpayer, not a tax burden,” she said.

"Sometimes I pinch myself because I just don't understand how I made it that far," Cox said.

Cox said he doesn't want to see juvenile programs cut because then others, like him, might not be able to stay out of trouble.

The budget proposal includes eliminating the Center for the Prevention of School Violence, closing the Dobbs Youth Development Center in Kinston and the Samarkand Youth Development Center in Moore County and cutting 255 juvenile justice positions.


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  • Winston Jun 17, 2009

    Coach K..you said after 4 or 5 chances some change their lives ( a VERY SMALL number I'm sure)..the fix is easy.forget about rehabilitation..MAKE jail/prison equal to Hades...something DREADED like death...recidivism will DROP like a rock.

  • gammasandi Jun 17, 2009

    As a former employee of the juvenile court system, I am happy to hear this story. Unfortunately it is usually only about those who were not successful that we hear.

  • Coach K is still GREAT Jun 17, 2009

    So, what you're saying is that you're not the least bit curious as to what he's doing to be an UPSTANDING citizen, paying taxes, etc???? I think your post has a different agenda than what you're leading on to, why don't you just come out and say what is that you REALLY mean. All this negativity, what does that REALLY mean?? Everyone has a right to post what they want and how they feel. I think alot of these posters are tired of hearing about someone finally deciding to change their lives after 4 or 5 chances. Kudos to this young man for changing though...

    Why should anybody be AWARDED for doing the RIGHT THING to begin with...

  • Coach K is still GREAT Jun 17, 2009

    (cont'd) I can't tell you how many times I had a student come to me and say this system is a joke. If the courts weren't so stupid they'd see the game I was playing, or something to that effect. The problem is that some of you out there just think these are kids in need of "Help" Well, the "help" should start at home. These kids know EXACTLY what they are doing, their not as immature and uneducated as some of you might think.

    Closing these Development Centers will be a mistake. All it's going to do is allow these kids to go back to the streets and do the same or even worse to you, I,someone we know or even worse, a family member. Some of you need to go and see what it's like to deal with these individuals on a daily basis, go volunteer, I guarantee if you did, you wouldn't have so much sympathy for them...

  • Coach K is still GREAT Jun 17, 2009

    I WORKED, not volunteered at the Juvenile detention center in Raleigh for 15 years. You say why don't people HELP these people? I did, I tried my best to help them get out and stay out, the problem is they want your help,they get out and then 1 month later you see right back in there for doing the same exact thing (or WORSE) that put them their in the first place.That's the problem they want a solution to being locked up, but when is enough, enough???? You can only try to help these kids so many times. The problem is that they get "bailed out" by the courts so many times that they think they'll be able to act the same way and be "bailed out" again and again. Now don't get me wrong, I'm happy for this young man, in my years of working in this field you may have 2 out od 10 that really want to change and the other 80% want something for nothing. We need to stop coddling these kids and get serious with them.

  • keiott Jun 17, 2009

    To all of those with the negative comments about the system, Why don't you help these young people that are in prison! You can be a voluteer at these institutions. I did it for 9 years at Polk Youth Center and found that most of them just don't have a clue about life. They were not taught by their parents how to deal with life, because their parents didn't know how to deal with life without drugs and alcohol. We all have an oppertunity to help someone. Just do it!

  • bronzegoddess40 Jun 17, 2009

    Why is there so much negativity? I guess it would have been better if he was still robbing and stealing. The man has changed his life and been awarded for it. I for one applaud him and I hope that others will follow suit. As far as what he is doing now, why is that anybody's business as long as he is an upstanding, tax paying citizen. Apparently, someone thought he has done a great job to the extent that he was awarded. He is honest enough to talk about it. I am proud of him and everyone else should be as well.

  • tiblet Jun 17, 2009

    I take nothing away from the achievements of this man...I truly admire and respect him.

    I do think in the world we live in today we have to weigh everything against the law of diminishing returns...weigh the cost against the benefits. While I don't want to see the state give up on young people...if we don't have a high success rate...at some point we can't continue to invest in it...which is sad b/c it seems everyone else has already given up on these young people.

  • housemanagercary Jun 17, 2009

    What is this young man doing these days? What does he do for a living? I didn't see that in this article.

    Exactly what I was thinking...

  • cucamelsmd15 Jun 17, 2009

    From the article:

    ""My mom, she was a good mom, until my dad when off to prison when I was 7 years old,” he said."

    Until my dad when off to prison? Fantastic reporting WRAL, absolutely fantastic.