Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Juvenile In Justice by Richard Ross

This book was an impulse read.  I saw a review for it posted on Sarah Reads Too Much and thought it sounded like an interesting book.  Luckily, I was able to pick up a copy at the local library to check out myself.

It's a collection of photographs illustrating what it means to be incarcerated in a juvenile facility.  No faces are shown, but he photos picture the teens and, in some cases, children, who are locked up and are, supposedly, being rehabilitated, but who are frequently just beginning a long chain of incarcerations that may plague them for the rest of their lives.

The book hasn't got much writing in it, but it does contain a great forward by Ira Glass and a preface by Bart Lubow.  The photographs themselves make up the majority of the book, along with statistics about which teens and children are incarcerated, why they are incarcerated, and what their future outcomes look like.

Entertainment Value
It's obviously not something I'd necessarily consider entertainment, but the pictures are well-done and accomplish their goal - they show the plight of children who have been put into detention centers, often unnecessarily.

In college I interviewed a pastor at my church who was also a prison chaplain in a juvenile facility.  In fact, he was responsible for ministering to the two young boys who were responsible for the school shooting in Jonesboro, AR.  During the interview, he told me about one of the boys losing teeth and how it shocked him that someone responsible for murder still had his baby teeth.  He also told me about the fear and loneliness of kids in prison and described what it was like for a child or teen to spend Christmas incarcerated.

Obviously, something has to be done with teens and children who commit crimes.  There has to be responsibility for devastating incidents like school shooting.  But my pastor's stories showed the humanity of children who have been locked up, and this book did as well.

I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you can find a copy.  It's simple and straightforward and brings up a lot of questions about the juvenile justice system without making any judgments.

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