In the United States, the conversation about teen incarceration has moved from one extreme to another. For centuries, execution of juvenile offenders was legal. By the twenty-first century, the US Supreme Court had moved closer to banning all executions of minors, regardless of the severity of the crime. Since the 1990s, the US juvenile justice system has moved away from harsh punishment and toward alternative evidence-based models that include education, skills building, and therapy.
In Teen Incarceration, readers meet former teen incarcerees who now lead exemplary lives. Learn how juvenile justice works in the United States and meet the people working to reform the system.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Drugs; Criminal culture
Booklist (October 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 3))
Grades 9-12. This multifaceted, informative look at youth incarceration examines the history, components, and issues of the juvenile justice system, as well as how a range of jurisdictions have sought to address both juvenile crime and the young offenders themselves. From the onset, Jones, who has worked with young inmates, incorporates evidentiary research and offenders’ personal stories and demonstrates that rehabilitation should be a goal. While not downplaying the severity of some of the included crimes, Jones conveys youth incarceration’s many complexities, including risk factors, racial and gender sentencing disparities, and the school-to-prison pipeline, all while emphasizing incarceration’s impact on youthful offenders and their communities at large. Also discussed are postprison challenges, the value of life- and job-skills programs and therapy, and how being supportive and fostering hope are important factors in reducing youth crimes and recidivism. The book concludes with some relatively recent alternatives to incarceration, like community service, electronic monitoring, and mentoring programs. Extensive source notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and additional resources further strengthen this thought-provoking title.
Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
The complicated history and issues surrounding the punishment of teenage offenders is concisely and thoughtfully discussed in this examination of the juvenile-justice system outside and inside prison walls.Jones begins with a brief history of U.S. criminal justice, noting that “the pendulum between punishment and rehabilitation models has swung back and forth as society’s mores change.” Examining the inclination toward rehabilitation, Jones discusses how treatment of teen offenders has moved from harsh punishment toward alternative models based upon brain-development research and incorporating alternative models like education, skills training, and therapy. Jones makes excellent use of statistics, research studies, and the voices of former teen offenders to examine what works and what does not. He shares insights from his own experiences working with juvenile offenders in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He also highlights the racial inequities in America’s criminal justice system, noting that “while minority kids make up about one-third of the U.S. juvenile population, they are two-thirds of the juvenile corrections population.” The book concludes with a look at alternatives to incarceration. One approach worthy of more discussion than is accorded here is reconciliation and restorative justice, which, in lieu of punishment, has the offender restore or repair the damage done to an individual or business and personally atone for the offense. An accessible, informative introduction to the topic. (photos, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further reading) (Nonfiction. 12-18)
About the Author
Patrick Jones is the author of five realistic teen novels, most recently Stolen Car((Walker / Bloomsbury, 2008). His first young adult novel Things Change (Walker & Company, 2004) was named by the Young Adult Library Services Association as a best book for reluctant readers, and was runner-up in the Teen Buckeye Book Award selected by Ohio teens. His second novel Nailed was published by Walker / Bloomsbury in spring 2006 and was a runner-up for the Great Lake Book Award. His 2007 novel, Chasing Tail Lights, is nominated for the Minnesota Books Awards.
Jones is a frequent speaker at library conferences, having visited all fifty states, as well as in Canada, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Jones grew up in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
His website is www.connectingya.com.
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