Located 31 miles from Detroit in Oakland County, Michigan, Pontiac’s unemployment rate is high at 17.6%. Wealth levels within the city are low, as per capita income is 45% of the county, 65% of the state, and 63% of the national averages. GM concentration is significant, representing one-third of the city’s tax base. GM currently employs approximately 6,000 workers in Pontiac. In November 2006, GM announced plans to relocate 3,600 engineering and related employees from its Centerpoint campus in the city. The Pontiac Assembly center, which manufactures the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra full-size pick-up trucks, accounts for a significant amount of remaining GM employment in the city. Last month GM announced it would reduce staff levels by several hundred at this plant.
Nathaniel Abraham received national attention when he was sentenced to prison for murder as an 11 year old. Michigan had enacted a draconian law that allowed prosecutors to charge juveniles of any age with serious felonies. He was released at 21.
He was arrested for drug dealing this week. Police caught him in the middle of a transaction and he had approximately 250 ecstasy pills in his possession. Here’s the money quote:
Nicole Edwards, sister of the murder victim, also expressed disappointment in Abraham’s drug arrest.
“I thought he would rehabilitate himself,” she said. “This is like a slap in the face.”
You don’t see the economic context of Pontiac that I provide above, anywhere in the story. Abraham is a convict. Pontiac’s unemployment rate is 17%. Once you add in the people who have stopped looking that figure is probably around 22% at best. People rarely rehabilitate themselves, particularly in a context where poverty is rampant and jobs are scarce.