SAVING OUR KIDS by Falcon Baker


From Delinquency, Drugs, and Despondency
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A clearheaded and knowledgeable look at juvenile crime and juvenile "injustice," with proposals for change. Over the past 20 years, Louisville, Kentucky, has given Baker, the state's former youth commissioner, the opportunity to not only study and analyze delinquent behavior in children, but to experiment with solutions in the Louisville schools. Here, he first takes on the courts and the criminal-justice system, arguing convincingly that it is there that young people are turned into criminals (for example, the six-year-old given a bleak future by being arrested and booked for shoplifting bubble gum). Next, Baker takes on the schools, stating that school performance is the only reliable predictor of potential delinquency, and schoolrooms--as early as kindergarten--are where diagnosis and intervention should begin. Yes, poverty, prejudice, racism, and economic imbalance are the root causes, but how do we break the cycle? Baker has a plan that begins with contraceptive education and ends with radical reforms of the juvenile-justice system. It is far more detailed and sweeping than recycled Sixties liberalism, although he advocates a compromise drug-control program that includes legalizing marijuana. Baker does believe that streets should be safe, and he also calls for school and social programs that will send a truant student to court when all other intervention clearly fails. The cost of these programs in the long run would be less than present chase-your-tail cycles of arrest and punishment. Impatient Americans have never been happy with in-the-long-run solutions, but Baker's presentation is so sensible, generally well informed, and fair that it commands attention.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1990
ISBN: 06-039115-4
Publisher: HarperCollins
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