KIDS in Jail: Narrative Nonfiction about Youth Incarceration

Riha-BookCOVERBy Jane Guttman, Correctional Educator and Author

This story emerged from my work inside a juvenile hall school for the past 14 years.  I have seen a range of incidents, cruelty, and traumas that kids have endured in the juvenile system, and have responded with this publication.  We can hope, in the telling of this story that reform will continue to be forthcoming. KIDS in Jail sketches events that occur inside, and although they are told by me, I can’t speak to whether or not these events are universal, though I believe they are not exceptional.

Our youth at risk suffer enormous hardship as they struggle to adulthood.  Many will spend long stretches in prison.  Some have one or even two strikes, which puts them at risk for a life in prison.  Strong intervention can reverse the wretched prison pipeline.  Alternatives to incarceration must be implemented in greater measure.  These kids are born into darkness and our intervention can light their way.

KIDS in Jail, narrative nonfiction, tells the story of youth incarceration…teens raging and weeping through life. In a broken and flawed system, KIDS gives voice and homage to street soldiers, young men and women whose lives as our nation’s throwaway kids often begins as youth in foster care or in brutal home lives.  This chapter of life often advances to the juvenile jail system, where a career in crime begins.   KIDS bares the dark and desperate tale of custody for kids.  The passages portray lost childhoods and budding convicts, many of whom will return to live among us, while others will spend their entire lives behind bars. Their trials are enormous and yet each teen conveys a hope that lies beneath the rubble of despair, rage, illiteracy, and prayers of suicide.

Thank you for your part in sharing this story.  Please consider contributing to our Kickstarter Campaign and network this announcement on behalf of the 70,000 kids currently incarcerated in our nation.

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2 Responses to KIDS in Jail: Narrative Nonfiction about Youth Incarceration

  1. Patricia Meyer says:

    Thank you so much for your extraordinary work on behalf of the profound injustices occurring in our juvenile justice system and for giving voice to the unspeakable and voices to the invisible “throwaway kids.” It is my hope that as you shed light on the dark secrets of our broken system, the seeds of reform will sprout and spread.

  2. Dee Gerken says:

    Thanks to those who are advocating for the youth of America and the world. Thank you to those who remind the courts that developmental research shows that we cannot continue to treat young people as adults and that there are inequities in the juvenile justice system that must be resolved. “Kids in Jail” will provide a poignant glimpse into the lives of young people who often were lacking the basics for life. One can only imagine that food and shelter, not to mention love, caring, and understanding could have changed the course of their lives. I hope that those who are unaware of the challenged lives of these children will have new insight and begin to understand that these children are our future too.