Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

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9781620971314: Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

In what the San Francisco Chronicle called an epic work of investigative journalism that lays bare our nation’s brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and is a clarion call to bring our children home,” Nell Bernstein eloquently argues that there is no good way to lock up a child. Making the radical argument that state-run detention centers should be abolished completely, her passionate and convincing” (Kirkus) book points out that our system of juvenile justice flies in the face of everything we know about what motivates young people to change.

Called a devastating read” by Truthout, Burning Down the House received a starred Publishers Weekly review and was an In These Times recommended summer read. Bernstein’s heartrending portraits of young people abused by the system intended to protect and rehabilitate” them are interwoven with reporting on innovative programs that provide effective alternatives to putting children behind bars.

The result is a work that the Philadelphia Inquirer called a searing indictment and a deft strike at the heart of America’s centuries-old practice of locking children away in institution”—a landmark book that has already launched a new national conversation.

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About the Author:

Nell Bernstein’s All Alone in the World (The New Press) was a Newsweek Book of the Week.” Bernstein is a former Soros Justice Media Fellow in New York and winner of a White House Champion of Change award. Her articles have appeared inNewsday, Salon, Mother Jones, Ebony, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She lives outside of Berkeley, California.

From School Library Journal:

Bernstein outlines the history of juvenile "reform" schools, the rise and fall of the rehabilitative model, and the reality of what happens behind bars to already traumatized teens: further physical, sexual, and mental abuse. The author takes a look at solitary confinement practices, "therapeutic prisons," and juvenile reentry. Using solid teen developmental theory and research, United Nations findings, and trauma-informed care, this title articulately sets forth the argument against the imprisonment of children. A passionate advocate for young people, Bernstein highlights teen voices and experiences throughout the book, adding humanity and insight to the statistics. Burning Down the House brings this issue to national attention. Readers meet influential adults such as Jerome Miller, who closed down the entire system in Massachusetts in the '70s, and Gladys Carrion, Chief Commissioner of New York, who not only closed down 18 state facilities by 2012 and halved the number of incarcerated kids, but also diverted $74 million to support community-based alternatives to incarceration. Teens interested in history, social sciences, and one of the biggest issues facing young adults in the U.S. will find lots to love in this book.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA

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