Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

8 Famous People Who Were Juvenile Delinquents

Not all juvenile delinquents go on to lead lives of crime. In fact, a few of them have used their experiences to feed their aspirations to become successful actors, singers or athletes — three professions that require unwavering confidence, fearlessness, and a degree of daredevilism. The following guys reformed their behavior just enough to overcome the odds and become famous. Each one of them, despite leading less-than-perfect adulthoods in some cases, have accomplished more in their lifetimes than most people ever will.

  1. Mark Wahlberg

    As the youngest of nine children, Wahlberg learned early that he had to fight for what he wanted. So when his parents divorced, he started running with a bad crowd. As a 13-year-old, he developed an addiction to cocaine, and at 14, he stopped attending school. His low point came at 16, when he was charged with attempted murder for beating a Vietnamese refugee with a metal hook, leaving the victim blind. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but served just 45 days. During his stay behind bars, he realized that his life was spiraling out of control, and that change was needed. He turned to his parish priest, who helped him get on the straight and narrow. Soon after, he joined his brother’s boy band New Kids on the Block, catapulting to fame in early adulthood.

  2. 50 Cent

    Born to a cocaine dealer, Curtis Jackson III struggled to survive in South Jamaica, Queens. Fittingly, he became an amateur boxer, which toughened him up and took him off of the streets — at least for a while. He became a drug dealer at age 12, escaping the watchful eyes of his grandparents, who thought he was keeping busy in after-school programs. It was an activity that he didn’t conceal at school, and it eventually caught up to him. When he was a sophomore, his school’s metal detectors indicated that he was carrying a gun. He subsequently spent time in a correctional boot camp, which motivated him to change — hence the moniker 50 Cent.

  3. Snoop Dogg

    Participating in the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church didn’t prevent Snoop from rebelling as a teenager. During high school, he got in trouble for cocaine trafficking, spending six months in jail as a result. He also dealt marijuana, even selling some to another rebellious high schooler, Cameron Diaz — according to her, anyway. A member of the Rollin’ 20 Crips gang in Long Beach, he collected enough interesting experiences about which to rap. By the age of 22, after spending a few years in trouble with the law as he was attempting to hit it big, his album Doggystle debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than eight million copies worldwide.

  4. Danny Trejo

    Few non-A-list stars have such a distinctive niche as Trejo. Not particularly handsome, his badly weathered face and numerous tattoos make him the perfect movie criminal — the firsthand experience helps too. He got high for the first time at the age of eight, and eventually became addicted to heroin as he committed petty crimes with his uncle, his role model. He spent time in a California Youth Authority facility for assault after stabbing a man who made a crack about his girlfriend. For a large portion of his adulthood, he continued to get into trouble, spending time in California’s infamous San Quentin State Prison, where he became the lightweight and welterweight boxing champion. Joining the twelve-step program, he knocked out his drug addiction, enabling him to demonstrate his acting chops in his first film Runaway Train.

  5. Mike Tyson

    A sensitive boy with a lisp and high-pitched voice, Tyson didn’t take too kindly to kids who made fun of him. Already struggling in poor Brownsville, Brooklyn, he honed his fighting skills by defending himself against the cruelty of older kids who were equally as frustrated with life. He was first arrested at the age of 12 when he snatched a purse, which resulted in him being sent to Tryon School for Boys. He had been arrested multiple times by the age of 13, and at 16, his mother died. Fortunately for Tyson, he was introduced to boxing trainer Cus D’Amato by one of his juvenile detention center counselors. D’Amato became his legal guardian, serving as a mentor while molding him into a heavyweight champion.

  6. Robert Mitchum

    Although Mitchum was undoubtedly a film legend, he stood apart from other legends of his day because of his embodiment of the tough, outcast character. As with Trejo and Wahlberg, it was his real-life personal experiences that made him great at his craft. In middle school, he was expelled for fighting with the principal. When he was expelled from high school, he decided to travel the country by hopping railcars, securing a variety of jobs including professional boxing. The low point of his journey came in Savannah, Georgia, when he was arrested for vagrancy and placed on a chain gang, prompting to him to return home after his release. He moved to Long Beach in 1936, where he joined a local theater guild, marking the beginning of his five-decade-long acting career.

  7. Merle Haggard

    Rappers and county music singers tend to lead interesting lives. Haggard, like 50 Cent and Snoop, got an early start in troublemaking. His father died when Merle was just nine years old, so he lacked the guidance craved by young men. At the age of 13, he was sent to a juvenile detention center in California for shoplifting lingerie, and at 14, he ran off with a friend to Texas. When he returned, he was arrested for truancy and petty larceny, and was sent back to the detention center. He escaped and worked odd jobs until he was caught and shipped to the high-security Preston School of Industry, where he had two stays — the second time came after he administered a beating after an attempted burglary. He turned his life around in prison, as he earned a high school diploma, facilitating his ascension to the top of the country music charts.

  8. Allen Iverson

    Before Iverson had a distinguished NBA career, he had a distinguished high school career as both a point guard and quarterback, leading both teams to Virginia state championships. Oozing with potential, he was highly coveted by numerous top-flight programs, including Georgetown basketball, which eventually secured his commitment. He almost threw it all away, however, when he participated in a white versus black melee at a bowling alley in which he allegedly struck a woman in her head with a chair. Arrested with four of his friends, the 17-year-old was convicted as an adult on a rare state statute intended to prevent lynching. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but only served four months, as the conviction was overturned due to insufficient evidence. A year later, he earned the Big East Rookie of the Year award.

10 Countries That Still Embrace Capital Punishment

Over the years, capital punishment has gained and lost support around the world as countries have developed new laws to retain the death penalty for certain crimes, approve it in exceptional circumstances or have abolished it altogether. Out of those 58 countries that still uphold the death penalty, 527 people were executed in 23 countries in 2010. Here are 10 countries that still embrace capital punishment:

  1. China

    China carries out the most executions than any other country in the world. China is considered to be the only country in the world to regularly execute thousands of people each year. Even though the Chinese government does not disclose the total number of executions it performs, Amnesty International has counted thousands of executions during 2010.

  2. United States

    The United States has one of the highest numbers of executions each year. In 2010, the United States executed 46 people in 2010, which was a 12% drop from 2009 and a 50% drop from a decade ago. Currently, 34 of the 50 U.S. states still use the death penalty, and Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma have carried out the most executions in the United States since 1976.

  3. Pakistan

    Since October 2008, the Pakistan Peoples Party enforced a moratorium on the death penalty, which prevented the government from executing criminals in 2009 and 2010. Despite the moratorium, the Pakistani government continues to sentence hundreds of people to death and thousands have remained on death row from previous sentences.

  4. Iran

    Iran has the second highest number of executions in the world. Iran is known for its brutal public executions and lack of discretion about the age of the offenders. In 2010, Iran executed at least 252 people, many of which are for drug-related offenses. In Iran, the death penalty can be given for murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape and pedophilia, as well as homosexuality and apostasy.

  5. North Korea

    North Korea still embraces the death penalty and is a prolific user of this form of punishment. The country performs public executions and allows the death penalty in cases of prostitution, drug transactions, plots against national sovereignty, terrorism, murder and treason. In 2010, North Korea executed at least 60 people.

  6. Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia embraces capital punishment as a way to penalize murderers, drug offenders and those who engage in witchcraft, sexual misconduct and violent or non-violent offenses. In 2010, Saudi Arabia carried out at least 27 executions. The current method for public executions mostly consists of beheading by sword.

  7. Yemen

    Yemen still embraces capital punishment as a form of penalizing those who commit murder and adultery and engage in homosexuality and apostasy. Yemen currently performs public executions by a firing squad, but has also permitted stoning and beheadings in the past. Yemen has proven to be a prolific user of the death penalty and committed at least 53 executions in 2010.

  8. Indonesia

    Indonesia embraces capital punishment and issues the death penalty for those who commit murder, drug trafficking and terrorism. Indonesia carries out executions by a firing squad. Although Indonesia hasn’t performed an execution since 2008 and there has been a shift in the attitude against the death penalty, it has yet to abolish capital punishment.

  9. Bangladesh

    Bangladesh still embraces the death penalty as a form of punishment for those who commit murder, drug offenses, and human trafficking of children and women for immoral and illegal purposes. Bangladesh has imposed mandatory death sentences for these and other crimes, but does not often take into account extenuating circumstances. Bangladesh permits public and jail executions by hanging. In 2010, the country performed at least 9 executions.

  10. Iraq

    Despite an unconfirmed number of executions in 2010, Amnesty International can confirm that Iraq still embraces the death penalty and has the third highest number of executions in the world since 2007. Iraq executed at least 120 people in 2009 and sentenced at least 1,129 people to death the same year, which was more than any other country other than China.

The 9 Best Mystery Books for Kids

Life is confusing for kids: Everyone’s taller than you are, you don’t know the rules, and most jokes go right over your head. The world’s one big mystery waiting to be solved, which might be why mystery stories have always had a special appeal for young readers. By jumping into books about underage sleuths, they get to identify with someone in a similar situation who’s also trying to figure out the world around them — and who gets to go one step further and actually solve the case. If you’ve got a young reader — or if you just want to relive a time in your life that was both simpler and endlessly complicated — give these titles a look.

  1. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin (ages 9-12)

    Winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal, Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is that rare children’s book that talks up to its readers, not down. The plot revolves around 16 people at an apartment building who are gathered to hear the will of local eccentric millionaire Samuel Westing. The twist is that the will is a series of clues that divides the group into eight pairs who are each challenged with solving the riddles and figuring out who killed Westing. It’s a smart, occasionally spooky book that’s perfectly pitched at middle schoolers, and at under 200 pages, it’s a quick read.

  2. The Eleventh Hour, Graeme Base (ages 4-8)

    Graeme Base’s animal illustrations are things of beauty, and his style made Animalia a work of art instead of just another book about the alphabet. The Eleventh Hour brings that style to a dinner-theater mystery aimed at younger readers that’s still a pleasant experience for older ones. The stakes are predictably low: The crime is a missing meal, not a mangled corpse. Still, the artwork makes it a good choice for early readers who are starting to show their curiosity about the world.

  3. Windcatcher, Avi (ages 9-12)

    Another Newbery winner, Avi’s Windcatcher is a mix of mystery and adventure. It’s not quite the puzzle for readers that some of the other books on this list try to be, but that’s not really Avi’s goal here, either. The book’s a slender one even by YA standards (running maybe 130 pages) and its mystery comes in the form of buried treasure and lost shipwrecks. It’s a nice change of pace but still fun enough to get kids thinking.

  4. The Maze of Bones, Rick Riordan (ages 9-12)

    The Maze of Bones is the first book in the series The 39 Clues, and though author Rick Riordan (the Percy Jackson & the Olympians titles) had a hand in developing the overall story, the only book he actually wrote is this one. The book is centered on the Cahill family, a world-famous clan whose members include everyone from Mozart to Napoleon. The story kicks off when two young members of the family are given a choice after their grandmother’s death: take $1 million and just walk away, or search for the 39 Clues and change the world. What makes the mystery-adventure so engaging is the way it blends books with online media, tying websites to plot lines. A great choice for tweens.

  5. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart (ages 8-12)

    Published in 2007 (and followed by a pair of sequels), The Mysterious Benedict Society is a full-on novel for kids, running several hundred pages as it weaves a tale of gifted children who band together to solve a mystery and stop a villain from using his own gang of children to rule the world. The idea of a school for gifted kids is nothing new, but what makes The Mysterious Benedict Society work so well is that its heroes unite through brain and will power, not might or magic.

  6. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, Donald J. Sobol (ages 7-12)

    There have been more than two dozen Encyclopedia Brown titles published since the series started in 1963, and there’s nothing like the original for jump-starting a child’s puzzle-solving side. Donald Sobol’s books are engineered as mini-games for readers, and each "case" is brief enough to keep the pace from flagging. Generations have been raised on these books.

  7. The Name of This Book Is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch (ages 9-12)

    Pseudonymous Bosch (real name: Raphael Simon) gets a lot of mileage in this fantasy mystery out of his sense of humor and commitment to making the act of reading a real experience. Most kids probably aren’t familiar with the idea of metafiction, but they know it when they see it: sly narrators talking about the story they’re telling, stories that become about themselves, etc. It’s Dr. Seuss, just dressed up a little. The Name of This Book Is Secret plays around with those ideas as it invites young readers to travel with a pair of children investigating a secret society, and it does so with such skill you can see why there have been three sequels to date.

  8. Skeleton Creek, Patrick Carman (ages 8-12)

    Skeleton Creek is a nice mix of horror and mystery, or at least the type of horror that’s palatable to 6th graders. What makes the book so rewarding is Patrick Carman’s epistolary style, roping in blog posts and journal entries to complete the story. Clues and passwords used in one part of the book allow the reader to explore an official site that ties into the other part. It’s a smart idea and a great way to present a mystery to younger readers who might find fiction daunting.

  9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (ages 9-12), Brian Selznick

    Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret was published in early 2007, and it’s the perfect children’s book for a generation that will be raised on mash-ups. Running more than 500 pages, the book is a mix of text and illustration that uses both to tell a story, and it’s that blend of picture book and graphic novel that makes the experience so enchanting. It’s a winning story, too, revolving around an orphan who lives in a Paris train station in the early 1900s and finds himself drawn to the clocks and gears that remind him of his absent father’s passions. A good read for all ages.