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Born, not raised : voices from Juvenile Hall…

Born, not raised : voices from Juvenile Hall (edition 2012)

by Susan Madden Lankford

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2812389,858 (3.28)1
Title:Born, not raised : voices from Juvenile Hall
Authors:Susan Madden Lankford
Info:San Diego, Calif. : Humane Exposures Films, LLC, c2012.
Collections:Your library, Recommendations
Tags:non-fiction, @work, mental health, read, read in 2012

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Born, Not Raised: Voices from Juvenile Hall by Susan Madden Lankford



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Short version: Not worth reading.

Longer version:

Due to the sensitive nature of the topics approached within Lankford's work, an honest review is both difficult and necessary. It would be easy to cave in to societal pressures and state that the book was an enlightening glimpse into another world etc., but the actuality of the matter is simply that I find the methods of the authors abhorrent and the psychology within the text justifying those methods vile. One reason above all stands out for such harsh words: The key people in the text - namely, the children being interviewed - have their stories, voices, dreams, and potentially their psyche's well-being altered, ignored, or dismissed outright by the juxtaposition of irrelevant images or leading questions.

Throughout the interviews and the questionnaires, the children (and that term is debatable with several of the older ones) are drawn into certain thought patterns by the phrasing of the interviewer or test. Page 110 contains a sample of a series of questions demonstrating such technique to elicit pathos. To summarize, the first question directly inquires about Bass' (the 15 year old boy answering) family. "Do you have any family members that have been, or are in jail or prison?" The implication is clearly an expectation of a yes. And while this may seem a reasonable question for a person in juvenile hall (perhaps in misguided effort to understand family influences), what crosses the reasonable line is the ordering of the following questions. Directly after bringing together the ideas of family and jail/prison in the young person's mind, the next question asks what the most memorable event in the past is for the interviewee. As if that were not enough, the third question in the snippet does not even bother with subtlety regarding its kangaroo nature, putting words into Bass' mouth by starting with the statement, "I am a young person scared about the future."

Questions and interviews of this sort could, easily, be seen as a form of emotional abuse or brainwashing. Rather than continue this review and possibly generate sales for Lankford, I'm simply going to end it at that. The only potential value such a work has is as a sadistic example of how to manipulate emotional and high-pressure scenarios. ( )
  LissaRhys | Dec 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This should be required reading for anyone who works with kids. I would highly recommend for teachers, social workers, and churches. The photos, stories, and drawings, included are bound to touch you heart and make you feel for these children. The author does a wonderful job of getting in touch with these kids and making a connection with them. This is not a fun read that anyone would pick up for enjoyment. BUT, it is very educational and offers a ton of insight and suggestions. All of the children touched upon here are crying out for love, attention, and role models. The author is suggesting that it doesn't take much for you to have an impact on a child, both negative and positive. One missed opportunity can change a child's life into negative, but one little bit of time spent with that child can leave a lasting postive impact. Bravo Ms. Lankford, keep up the good work! Thanks so much for caring, and for all the work you do and have done! ( )
1 vote TFS93 | Sep 3, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book isn't something that is going to make you feel light hearted and breezy like a feather, it's a gritty, important book. Some people didn't like the size of it - but I found the size gave the information the space it needed -- your eyes needed places to rest while grappling with tough content. I think this book (and the larger series) should be in high schools around the country. This wasn't an easy book by any means, but it made me think, it made me look at kids and families differently and it challenged my assumptions -- which are all important life activities.
1 vote leadmomma | Jun 10, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My first (and biggest) complaint about this book is its size - about the size of a newspaper tabloid - which makes it difficult to read. Maybe because the author relied on photography & reproduced writing samples as part of their narrative process she felt this would enhance the book's appeal. It does not.

And that is a shame because Susan Madden Lankford has an important (and heartbreaking) story to tell. Born, Not Raised speaks to a whole class of children that the larger society mostly ignores or vilifies. They come from dysfunctional homes, attend sub-standard schools (when they go at all) and are easily attracted into the life of street gangs.

Ms. Lankford and her daughter, Polly, spent two years interviewing and working with the young inmates of Juvenile Hall in San Diego. In these kids' own words the reader gets a vivid description of the lives of anger, fear and despair that most of these young inmates live.

The message to anyone reading this book should be clear. We cannot afford to throw away an entire generation of children to the criminal justice system. I don't know the answers, and quite frankly, I don't think the author does either. But at least she realizes that we have a horrible problem. ( )
1 vote etxgardener | May 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While it may have seemed a great idea to make a book equal parts art photography, photojournalism, personal narrative, qualitative survey data (presented raw), participant observation/activism reports (but no field notes), Freudian and developmental psychological evaluations, and a vague call to action through education, I find this book a bit scattered.

The pictures are what they are, but the majority of the book is unfocused rambling about the very real social problem of crime and delinquency among urban youth. I am unsure whether the author's participant observation even qualifies as social science research. Their stated guiding question was "How did these kids get into this mess?" Their access to participants was severely restricted, but the book gives the impression that of what time they had, most of it was spent with a mere handful of youths. Further, as research, it should be composed with rigorous standards of accuracy with thick descriptions, frequent references to field notes, and a professional tone. It was not. As research this fails.

As narrative, it feels hollow. The day to day lives of the kids in the hall is not fully described. The hall doesn't even seem to exist in much of the narrative-- it is focused on the room in which the meetings and discussions took place. I didn't feel at any point as though I had really gotten to know or understand the perspective of any given participant. Rather, the book was written from the perspective of the author, and much of it is about her struggle to get to know the participants.

Lastly, and this is perhaps what disappointed me most about it, it refuses to discuss issues of race. Refusing to acknowledge the systemic racial inequalities in our society and their role in urban youth violence is purposeful. The author strives for colorblindness throughout the book, even when the participants' experiences of race and discrimination would add to the narrative. As such, this book is fundamentally flawed. ( )
1 vote undyingsong | Apr 27, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This book is the third in photojournalist and activist Lankford's series of books on troubled lives, following Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time and downTown U.S.A.: A Personal Journey with the Homeless. She embedded herself in a California youth detention facility for a year and gathered this compilation of recorded conversations with young teens incarcerated there, photographs of their environment, and drawings and writings in their original, unpolished script. In various chapters, these teens discuss the roots of their behavior, reflect on their present condition, and share their outlook on the future, which includes strains of hope and promise. Lankford, along with practicing psychiatrists, the facility's caretaking staff, and her college-age daughter, provides commentary on the teens' stories. The book concludes with ideas for solutions to the problems that transcend the institutional setting, such as parenting education, specific programs and services, and other educational initiatives that can better help juvenile offenders. VERDICT More policy-oriented than academic in tone, this book is recommended for specialized juvenile justice collections and libraries holding the other two volumes in the series. Though government austerity is in vogue, this book is a powerful reminder of the social costs of neglecting the specific needs of at-risk youth.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0979236630, Paperback)

Susan Madden Lankford, who explored homelessness and female incarceration in her two previous award-winning books, examines the plight of youngsters serving time in juvenile hall in BORN, NOT RAISED: VOICES FROM JUVENILE HALL.

For two years, Lankford interviewed more than 120 incarcerated teenagers, eight of them weekly, and features their voices, views, writing and drawings along with interviews with pediatric psychiatrists, neurobiologists, judges, probation officers and other professionals in BORN, NOT RAISED. In researching her book on women in jail, Lankford learned that a majority of inmates had at least two children in foster care, living with relatives or in detention. Many of them would end up in jail, too, because they lacked the basic parenting necessary to become productive individuals.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:06 -0400)

"In the final volume of her trilogy on interlinked social issues, [the author] explores the troubled psyches of young people incarcerated in Juvenile Hall. The perspectives of psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and experts in the field of juvenile justice, combined with dramatic contributions elicited from the youths themselves, underscore the social and neurobiological impacts of childhood trauma. Ultimately, however, the message of 'Born, not raised' is hope-- that unnurtured youth, with all their dreams and deficits, can be reparented and rewoven into the social fabric."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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