BUSTED LIVES: Dialogues with Kids in Jail by Ann Zane Shanks

BUSTED LIVES: Dialogues with Kids in Jail

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Says Alice, now 19 and serving five years for armed robbery, burglary, and assault: ""My friends would call up and say, 'Let's go rob tonight,' and I'd say, 'All right, nothing else to do.' . . . When I was growing up, I wanted to be a singer or an airline stewardess or a model, but it don't look like it was happening. . . . I'd do it all over again if I knew I wouldn't get caught."" Another girl would like to meet Kunta Kinte so she can tell him ""how I have a crush on him."" ""This world don't need to be here,"" she says. ""But all I can say is that I'm glad I'm in America rather than Russia."" These muddled young people are among the 13, all in jail or some sort of detention, who tell of parentless childhoods spent bouncing from pillar to post; of being beaten by fathers or stepfathers or, sometimes, by police; of drugs and armed robbery as a way of life; and of the fights and hassles of prison life. Their pasts are deplorable, their disaffection scary, and their futures unpromising. These edited tape-recorded accounts are preceded by Dr. Lee Salk's introduction, attributing all such crime to the early absence of parental love and thus of self-esteem, and are followed by what seem to be unplanned and often unthought-out statements by various experts who essentially pour forth their frustrations and personal views. To this Shanks adds a sketchy history, to show that the world has always had juvenile delinquency and child abuse, and some slack statements such as ""Prevention of delinquency. . . must happen."" It's a hodgepodge, of possible mild interest for the semi-raw material of the kids' accounts. For a more thoughtful discussion of the subject and a more persuasive presentation of Salk's psychological case, see last year's The Roots of Crime by Eda LeShan.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1982
Publisher: Delacorte