- Publisher: The New Press
- Format: Hardback | 370 pages
- Dimensions: 163mm x 236mm x 33mm | 658g
- Publication date: 4 September 2014
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1595589562
- ISBN 13: 9781595589569
- Sales rank: 536,806
When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month. One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults. Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled. "Burning Down the House" is a clarion call to shut down our nation's brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home.
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Nell Bernstein is a former Soros Justice Media Fellow, a winner of a White House Champion of Change award, and the author of "All Alone in the World." Her articles have appeared in "Newsday," "Salon," "Mother Jones," and the "Washington Post," among other publications. She lives outside Berkeley, California.
Praise for "Burning Down the House" "Passionate, thoughtful, and well-researched, this is a resounding call to action." --"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) "Passionate and convincing." --"Kirkus Reviews" ""Burning Down the House" by Nell Bernstein reveals a shocking truth: what adults do to children behind the walls of America's juvenile prisons is criminal. If we want to change the United States' senseless addiction to incarceration, the best possible place to start is transforming how our justice system treats our children. This book shows just how that can be done." --Piper Kerman, author of "Orange Is the New Black" "Engrossing, disturbing, at times heartbreaking, "Burning Down the House" offers a seed of hope: a future where all children are valued and free. Told in the voices of children kept in cages, this book should fuel the growing movement to curb America's uniquely excessive reliance on juvenile incarceration." --Van Jones, author of "Rebuild the Dream" "In the haunting voices of children shut away in nightmarish facilities, their lives defined by abuse and brutality, Nell Bernstein brings to light the betrayal of the juvenile court's promise of 'rehabilitation.' With her empathetic ear, sharp, impassioned prose, and deft use of compelling evidence, Nell Bernstein is the ideal messenger for the many thousands of children who will go to sleep tonight on a concrete bunk in an empty cell, convinced that there is no place for them in the world. --Ayelet Waldman, editor of "Inside This Place, Not of It" "Drawing on well-documented history, compelling research, and her strong sense of justice, Nell Bernstein asks a provocative question: why do we have juvenile prisons? Seizing the momentum of the sharp decline in imprisoned youth, this smart and humane book makes a persuasive case that the time for tinkering has passed. Bernstein leads the reader to ask a heretical question: are we witnessing the beginning of the end?" --Jeremy Travis, president, John Jay College of Criminal Justice "A riveting must-read for anyone on the 'outside' with influence to send kids to the 'inside' of juvenile prisons. This expose of the anguish, pain, and suffering of kids we place inside the razor wires, all for a false sense of public safety, should provoke in all of us to carry the torch to 'Burn Down the House.' --Judge Steven C. Teske, chief judge, Clayton County Juvenile Court, and author of "Reform Juvenile Justice Now" Praise for Nell Bernstein "The White House honors [Nell Bernstein] for [her] dedication to the well-being of children of incarcerated parents." --The White House Champions of Change Praise for "All Alone in the World," Bernstein's previous book "An urgent invitation to care for all children as our own." --Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of "Random Family" "Powerful. . . . Highly recommended." --"Choice" "[A] moving condemnation of the U.S. penal system and its effect on families." --"Parents Press" "Meticulously reported and sensitively written." --"Salon" "Brimming with compelling case studies . . . and recommendations for change." --"Orlando Sentinel" "Serious, moving, and well organized . . . this book could help galvanize a national will to tackle such problems." --"Library Journal" (starred review) "Bernstein's book pumps up awareness of the problems [and] provides a checklist for what needs to be done." --"Publishers Weekly" "In terms of elegance, breadth and persuasiveness, "All Alone in the World" deserves to be placed alongside other classics of the genre such as Jonathan Kozol's "Savage Inequalities," Alex Kotlowitz's "There Are No Children Here" and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's "Random Family." But to praise the book's considerable literary or sociological merit seems beside the point. This book belongs not only on shelves but also in the hands of judges and lawmakers." --"San Francisco Chronicle"