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4 Works 244 Members 3 Reviews

About the Author

Image credit: Jill Wolfson

Works by John Hubner


Common Knowledge



Today, in the United States, thousands of children are trapped in our criminal justice system. Many of these children are not in juvenile facilities or rehabilitation centers. They are kept in cells with violent adult offenders or locked in solitary confinement meant to "protect" them from the sexual assault and violence. Since the 1980s, more than half of our states have adopted legislation which encourages the court system to try juveniles as adults. Although, for the past 20 years, violent crime has plummeted in our juvenile population, children as young as 10 have been placed in adult prisons and as young as 14 have been executed via lethal injection.
While investigating this draconian juvenile court system, James Hubner found his way to The Giddings State School. Here, Texas stores its worst juvenile offenders for an all but forgotten purpose, rehabilitation. While following the stories of two young criminals, Hubner explores the effects of abuse, drug use, neglect and, most importantly, redemption. In an era when the media is eager to label young offenders "super predators" and "sociopaths," Last Chance in Texas reminds its readers that most abusers were once abused, and a criminal justice system that acts as an abusive parent will necessarily harden the criminals it holds. Youth, whose brains are plastic, whose morality is forming, whose emotions live trapped beneath injury, can change. Abused youth who are made, with support, to face their own injury and the injury they caused can learn empathy.
I have already recommended this book to several students in my race, class and culture course. The stories of Giddings' inmates force us to look past the bloody headlines and into the lives of people born without privilege. The criminal offenders in Giddings are overwhelmingly children of color and children born into poverty. Their stories force the reader to consider how the inequality, violence and bigotry of our communities create the criminals we condemn. And as these children learn to face their pasts and empathize with their victims, Hubner re-humanizes "the worst of the worst" so that we, too, can learn to empathize with the victims of an abusive society.
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1 vote
jcelliot | 1 other review | Jan 25, 2017 |
The authors are journalists who spent a year following the juvenile court of one judge in California. They were allowed access to records and to the families and children, and compiled a compelling story of several of the children seen in the court. The stories are heart-wrenching and illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the system. I thought the account was balanced, yet realistic. The final chapter offers suggestions of what people can do to get involved, such as volunteer in the court system. I'm putting this on my keeper shelf!… (more)
janiejane.books | Aug 17, 2007 |
I keep thinking about this book, and what its ideas means for us. 95% of the young people who go through this program for violent offenders are labeled "sociopath," that is, incapable of empathy. In this rehab, each one tells the story of his life and the story of his crime. It seems too simple an idea to matter, but the result is that 95% are changed, released, and do not reoffend. It works: hurt people can relearn empathy.
1 vote
sherribrari | 1 other review | Aug 1, 2007 |



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