Michael T. LaReau, released juvenile lifer
“At the age of fifteen, I ran away from home along with three other juveniles. Unfortunately we became desperate which led to us making a series of bad decisions. I created a victim that night.
I received a 40-year sentence at the age of 15 and I served 22-years before being released. Since that terrible night 27 years ago, I have matured into an adult I am proud of. After thirteen parole hearings, Mr. Tate released me while he served as the interim Parole Commission Chair. I came home on May 28th, 2020. Since being released, I have become a homeowner and a stepdad to two of the most precious little girls, ages 5 and 8. I have been in residential remodeling for most of the time I have been free. It’s satisfying work, but I have recently pursued a move to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to begin work with a company named CC We Adapt. I have been doing peer mentoring for the past 4 months. I recently went through the Rehabilitation Review through DHS as a way to expand my reach through CCS (comprehensive community services).
In 2023, I was one of twenty-eight people from across the US selected to take part in a six month cohort that focused on criminal justice reform. Since graduating from the cohort, I have gone on to become the Empathy Network State Campaign lead for Wisconsin, working alongside Dream.Org to work toward capping supervision lengths.
The kid who committed the crimes I committed in 1998 is no longer recognizable within myself. I went to prison at a very young age and I was released when I was 37-years old. I won’t argue that I didn’t need punishment for my actions that fateful night in 1998, but I know that the amount of time I received was more than enough. In my opinion 22-years was excessive, the time became a hindrance to my growth and ability to establish a life beyond my past mistakes.
The reason I am working as a mentor is because I would have been better served with intervention than incarceration. Everyone is not starting on the same playing field, some kids don’t get the same level of interaction with parents, coaches and teachers, which makes growing up more difficult. We need to teach our kids manners, good study habits, proper nutrition, how to identify our emotions and what to do with those emotions. I wish someone would have played a larger role in my early years, someone to mentor me, but now I am here for others.”