HINDS COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - Hope Heard describes her son Dexter Johnson, a recent Raymond High School graduate, as a person with “good character." She said he’s respectful and very determined.
Those are qualities Johnson said he didn’t have in 2016. “I didn’t have anything to lose. I was angry, and I just wanted to vent to someone," he said.
Heard said her son was acting out and being defiant three years ago.
“That particular morning, he said ‘I’m not going to school.’ And I told him, ‘yes you are going to school.’ and he said ‘no I’m not’," she explained.
Heard left during her shift out in Scott County to handle the problem.
“I called the sheriff’s department and I told him, ‘do you have anything for kids that say they’re not going to school?’”
Johnson was sent to Hinds County Jail for the day as part of a behavioral correction exercise.
“When I went in, it was hollering, calling my name. I was like, ‘how do you know my name?'” recalled Johnson.
Johnson was one of the first boys to go through Sheriff Victor Mason’s 'scared straight’ program.
“He was one that didn’t wanna reason, that didn’t wanna listen," said Sheriff Mason. “He wanted to do it his way.”
“Inmates were telling me how long they had to be in there in their closed cell,” said Johnson.
That's when Johnson realized he wouldn't want that life either.
Coping with the absence of his father and the tragic loss of his cousin, he was able to move forward.
“I started playing sports too, I never regret that,” said Johnson.
Thanks to the village that loved and supported him, Johnson pushed through and was able to graduate.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I think in this case, the village helped raise him,” said Heard.