Everyone makes mistakes as a child. For most people, the repercussions mean something like being scolded or grounded. However, for some children, their mistakes are so horrendous that the repercussions must be extremely severe.

Here’s a list of 10 children who grew up in jail.

1- Josh Phillips

Like many children on this list, Joshua Phillips grew up in terrible conditions and had a harsh home life. However, that does not excuse his actions. It started when he accidentally hit his best friend with a basketball and injured her. And while a head wound on an 8-year-old is no laughing matter the situation could have been salvaged had Phillips not reacted in the manner he did.


Fearful of repercussions at the hands of his violence-prone father Joshua didn’t bring the accident to an adult’s attention. Instead, he beat his friend until she stopped sobbing and then proceeded to stab her multiple times until she died. Matters only escalated from there when he hid her body and joined her parents’ search party. It was when his mother found the girl’s body under his bed that the truth came to light. Joshua Phillips was sent to prison for first-degree murder.

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2- Ricky Preddie

Ricky Preddie was a sad example of the failure of society to reform delinquents. His first stint in prison was an 8-year sentence at 13 when he stabbed a classmate using a broken bottle on his way home from school. Then when he got released he was sent back in for breaking parole. His stay was extended after he got caught beating up a fellow prisoner. The third time he was released he fell back in with his old gang. This time he was sentenced for stealing motorbikes and leading the police on a high-speed chase. Throughout his life and various sentences, Ricky Preddie was unable to find the strength of will to turn his life around and the system was unable to reform him.

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3- Max McDougal

Perhaps the only child on this list who grew up in prison but didn’t commit a crime Max McDougal was the son of Jaquelyn McDougal. Jaquelyn was imprisoned on charges of theft; she’d pilfered silverware from her employees to finance her drug habit. However, at the time of her conviction, she was both pregnant and clean. She gave birth in prison and took her son with her. While this may not seem like the best of ideas the courts consulted professionals who agreed that it was better for the infant’s wellbeing to stay with his mother. And so Max grew up in prison with his mother staying on the straight and narrow for her son’s wellbeing and to get them both out of prison as soon as possible.

4- Anissa Weier

This story began as a result of the creepypasta stories – a horror series available on the internet. The stories are of course fictional as the fans well know. But this wasn’t the case for Anissa Weier. Weier suffered from mental illness and delusions and after reading the slender man, creepypasta became convinced that she needed to sacrifice a child to the slender man to ensure her family’s safety. So Anissa Weier took her friend and together the two kidnapped a classmate, dragged her into the woods and tried to kill her by stabbing her 19 times. Thankfully the girl escaped and though traumatized from the incident was able to get help. Weier was apprehended and committed to a psychiatric hospital until she turned 37.

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5- Anisha Walker

At 14 Anisha Walker was charged with murder and drug dealing. However in a case of horrendous mismanagement in the court system instead of being sent to a juvenile detention facility the young girl was instead sent directly to an adult women’s prison. There Walker was forced to eat and sleep side by side with adult criminals. The girl grew up picking vegetables in the prison fields and navigating the dangerous prison dynamics.

6- Lionel Tate

A child with a history of violence Lionel Tate had a rap sheet with stealing, lying and physical violence at 13 years old. The situation arose when his mother left him alone to babysit her friend’s 6-year-old daughter. A few hours later Lionel woke her from her nap and told her that the girl had stopped breathing. A little later he confessed that the girl had knocked her head against the table while they’d been playing. Medical tests later for the little girl’s injuries listed a cracked skull, broken ribs, hemorrhaged kidneys, lacerated liver and serious brain damage the equivalent to a three-story drop. Lionel Tate earned the title of the youngest person to receive a complete life sentence without chance of parole.

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7- Joseph Ligon

Joseph Ligon received a life sentence at 16 for helping commit first-degree murder. At 79 Ligon is still in jail even though life convictions for children have since been deemed unconstitutional by the courts.

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8- Nate Anderson

Nate Anderson was arrested for murdering his 19-year-old sister. Having pleaded innocent at first he claimed to have found her already dead when he returned home from his jog. However after further questioned he admitted to having shot her with a gun he had obtained for target practice. Although he was only sentenced to 20 years in prison with the option for parole at 10 the 16-year-old was sent directly to prison instead of juvie.

9- Scott Benly

Scott Benly was imprisoned after he shot a woman in a home invasion when he was 14. While that might sound like an irredeemable action you can’t help but sympathize when you hear the story of how he grew up. Living in a house where his father was in an incestuous non-consensual relationship with his sister Benly didn’t have the easiest childhood. That of course still doesn’t excuse his actions. Benly was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

10- Evan Miller

Like Evan bludgeoned a man with a baseball bat at 14, covered him with a sheet, yelled, “I am God!” and then proceeded to set his trailer on fire. Think that sounds pretty irredeemable? You might change your mind when you hear that Miller struggled in foster care with an abusive father and a drug-addicted mother and the man Evan murdered was actually his own mother’s drug dealer.

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