The shame of juvenile prison in America

June 26th, 2014
20031016-liss-mw08-002-910_2.jpgThe American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a young person locked up — far more than the U.S. spends per child, on education.

To examine that system requires a two fold understanding.  One of the criminal justice system that sends so many young people into these facilities and secondly the nature of the facilities themselves and the public policy decisions that have allowed them to deteriorate to the point where it’s almost certain that young people sent to these facilities will have a dramatically greater chance of adult incarceration.

How bad is the problem, can it be solved with the tools we have, and frankly, in spite of what we say, do we even care enough to do anything about it?

Nell Bernstein has spent years up close and personal in the system.  The story she tells in her new book, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, should make us all ashamed.

My conversation with Nell Bernstein: