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Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile…
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Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison (original: 2014; edição: 2014)

de Nell Bernstein (Autor)

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"When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month. One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults. Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled. Burning Down the House is a clarion call to shut down our nation's brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home. "--… (mais)
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In light of the recent protests regarding law enforcement’s treatment of minorities, this book is a must read. Nell Bernstein takes the reader through the history of juvenile prisons, how they treat children like hardened criminals instead of lost souls in need of reform and why poor minority children are far more likely to end up behind bars.

Bernstein approaches the subject of incarcerating children from a point of advocacy instead of journalism considering how closely she has worked with kids who’ve had their own troubles with the law. The book is incredibly well researched and well rounded by even going so far as discussing how locking up young kids and teens for years over minor crimes hurts them developmentally. Some of the chapters covering sexual assault and solitary confinement - which is considered torture by the UN - are a bitter pill to swallow, but Bernstein is never heavy handed with the frank abuse that these kids go through.

What recommends this book the most is that Bernstein offers solutions to the idea of mass incarceration, and how they can relieve a financial burden off affected communities and instill the hope of a successful future in children that would otherwise be given up on.

The only thing stopping me from giving this book five stars is that I am not a fan of Bernstein’s writing style. She’s incredibly repetitive at times, and this book can easily be shortened by 50 pages with better editing. ( )
  acgallegos91 | Dec 12, 2014 |
Except for Thanksgiving weekend, Labor Day weekend is the most difficult holiday weekend for me, so this wasn’t a good time for me to be reading this book, but I guess it was good timing to finally finish it. I found it utterly devastating, though it’s such an important book, and thankfully it does offer hope and excellent suggestions in the final sections. Thank goodness viable alternatives to what is the norm are provided. Otherwise, the book would be nothing but tortuous.

My feelings about human nature are getting more and more negative as I read certain books and see certain films. I think I need a comical book next.

This book gets 5 stars because I want absolutely everyone to read it, particularly adults and adolescents somehow affected, including judges, prison and school officials, treatment program workers, teachers, foster parents, graduate students in all related fields, but everyone. Even if a reader feels nothing in this book applies to their life and they are powerless to do anything, that’s not so. If you are a voter, a citizen, a parent, an adolescent, this is a must read book, in my opinion.

I’ve read a lot and experienced a lot (thankfully never incarceration) but not since I read As We Are Now by May Sarton am I so certain death is preferable to being helpless and solely in the hands of other human beings. I could really identify with these kids. I have worked with similar kids and now I wish I could have done that even better than I did. I could have been one of these kids, as the author points out, that’s true of most people. For me, from ages 11-13 I could have ended up incarcerated and I am lucky that I did not. While I didn’t have the positive essentials for young people the authors posits, such as a supportive adult when I was at the ages of the kids whose stories are told in this book, I know that if I’d ended up at 90% of the covered places, I’d have been so much worse off, as I know I couldn’t have withstood the physical and/or sexual abuse, and the even worse isolation than I had.

I like her ideas of what our society should do, and it’s why I want everyone to read the book. Without a swell of demand, it’s not likely to happen on a wide scale.

One thing that came up for me again, is I’ve never understood why those under age 18 (maybe 24-25 since that’s when brain development is considered complete) are tried and punished as adults. I don’t care what kinds do; they’re not adults. They’re just not. In fact, when I hear of 12-17 year olds in the new who’s committed horrible crimes, if anything they tend to be immature for their ages. They’re kids, and society should have hope for the 99% of them who aren’t hard core psychopaths.

The inequities shown here are appalling but not surprising.

Anyway, I’m glad I read it, and I’m glad it was written. The author did not let down the kids she got to know, the kids she befriended. Their trust in her was earned and justified. I hope it does a tremendous amount of good. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Sep 1, 2014 |
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"When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month. One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults. Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled. Burning Down the House is a clarion call to shut down our nation's brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home. "--

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