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)