I went back to the juvy prison last night. a new group of guys.
one young man was NOT down with meditation at all, ("this is corny!") but I worked with it and kept the session going a bit longer.
after we were drumming for awhile, the same young man threw down his drum sticks and said, "I'm retiring from drumming!" and I said "Okay, thanks for being here." as soon as he left, the other guys relaxed and the energy opened up and then they wanted to rap over a beat I was…Continue
When most Americans hear the familiar constitutional phrase “cruel and unusual punishment” they can tell you what it means, at least to them. Hanging. Flogging. Chopping a hand off. Chain gangs.
Putting juvenile offenders in solitary confinement is high on my list of “cruel and unusual punishment.” What else do you call locking up fifteen, sixteen year olds, some even younger, in total isolation for 24 hours a day, in some cases for months at a time, never leaving their…Continue
“You don’t care about the victims. All you care about are those kids.”
It was a comment I’ve heard in one form or another at book events, at juvenile justice talks I’ve given, or in response to pieces I’d written about our national policy of retribution towards troubled kids. I have to admit, though, this guy…Continue
I didn’t expect my talk to a class of criminal justice majors at a local community college to be any different from the other workshops, presentations and classes I’d done. The students had read my book for class. I figured I’d talk about the book, about my 10 years teaching high school kids locked up in an adult county jail, and about juvenile justice issues in general. The usual topics. But when I asked the students to go around and say what area of criminal justice they wanted to pursue,…Continue
Added by Carter (PDN Admin) on March 1, 2012 at 11:19am — No Comments
Arizona’s legislature recently passed a law charging prison visitors a onetime $25 fee as a way to help close the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit. Middle Ground Prison Reform, a prison advocacy group, challenged the law in court as a discriminatory tax, but a county judge upheld its constitutionality.
Fees like that, slapped on prisoners and their families, couldn’t be more…Continue
Added by David Chura on February 1, 2012 at 8:49am — No Comments
If anyone doubts that the young people locked up in our jails are children they should spend some time in one of those prisons around holiday time.
I did just that for the 10 years I taught high school students, some as young as fifteen, in an adult county jail, and every year it got tougher to deny the impact being locked up for the holidays had on these teens.
Jail’s a pretty isolating place. That’s one of the ideas. But in lockup they watched a lot of TV—that great purveyor…Continue
Added by David Chura on December 22, 2011 at 4:19pm — No Comments
There’s been some good news in the media lately for anyone who cares about kids and justice. Federal statistics show that the number of juvenile offenders in jail has dropped by at least 25%. Along those same lines, the New York Times recently reported that New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has called for moving most juvenile cases from criminal court to family…Continue
by David Chura
Now that all the high school graduations are over and the backyard barbeques celebrated, I’m finally coming down from the contact high of all that youthful exuberance and optimism.
It’s easy to get swept up into those good feelings. But now as I move into summer’s quieter months, I can’t help thinking about the high school students I taught in a county penitentiary and what “commencement” meant for them.
Success never came easily to my students. Why…Continue
The statistics are grim, but the reality behind those numbers is even grimmer for the many young people locked up in US adult prisons. Since publishing I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup, about my years teaching in a New York county jail, I spend a lot of time writing, talking and hearing from families, professionals, and the young people themselves about the failures of our child welfare and criminal justice…Continue
Over any teacher’s career—in my case, 26 years of teaching high school English to at-risk teenagers, the last 10 of those years in an adult county jail—you get asked lots of questions. Some about the topic
you’re teaching; others, well, it’s hard to know where they come from.
But there’s one question I heard a lot, most frequently from my jail
students, “Why don’t you teach in a real school?”
This usually happened when a lesson went well and a kid…Continue
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