CASTAWAYS: The Penikese Island Experiment by George Cadwalader

CASTAWAYS: The Penikese Island Experiment

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The ""fall from innocence"" of the head of a kind of Boys Town experiment designed to turn teen-age delinquents into law abiding, self-reliant citizens Via ""survival training"" on a remote island in Massachusetts' Buzzards Bay. Cadwalader, who had seen ""misfits"" shape up during Marine Corps boot camp, believed at first that a four-month summertime exposure to construction work, crop growing, animal husbandry, carpentry, and boat-building would give young offenders a better chance to make it in the real world than the traditional reform school. When the school began operating year-round, job-skills training and apprenticeships in established mainland businesses were added. But, despite the best efforts of Cadwalader and his dedicated staff, the boys tended to fall apart after leaving the school's structured environment. In 1980, Cadwalader followed up the first 106 of his students to find that only 16 had not been involved with the police. The others had collectively committed 309 violent and 3082 nonviolent offenses. The problem, he contends, is that delinquents usually come from such chaotic environments, with ""so many contradictory messages,"" that they do not realize that destructive, impulsive actions can lead to dire consequences. He also faults ""the profoundly confusion, American ethos which glorifies violence."" At book's end, Cadwalader soldiers doggedly on, hoping to salvage at least some of the boys trained in his program. Raunchy, often wildly funny, despite the sobering message that too-little, too-late intervention to turn delinquents around is little better than a Band-Aid.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 1933392207
Publisher: Chelsea Green