Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys

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Overview

Victor Rios grew up in the ghetto of Oakland, California in the 1980s and 90s. A former gang member and juvenile delinquent, Rios managed to escape the bleak outcome of many of his friends and earned a PhD at Berkeley and returned to his hometown to study how inner city young Latino and African American boys develop their sense of self in the midst of crime and intense policing. Punished examines the difficult lives of these young men, who now face punitive policies in their schools, communities, and a world where they are constantly policed and stigmatized.

Rios followed a group of forty delinquent Black and Latino boys for three years. These boys found themselves in a vicious cycle, caught in a spiral of punishment and incarceration as they were harassed, profiled, watched, and disciplined at young ages, even before they had committed any crimes, eventually leading many of them to fulfill the destiny expected of them. But beyond a fatalistic account of these marginalized young men, Rios finds that the very system that criminalizes them and limits their opportunities, sparks resistance and a raised consciousness that motivates some to transform their lives and become productive citizens. Ultimately, he argues that by understanding the lives of the young men who are criminalized and pipelined through the criminal justice system, we can begin to develop empathic solutions which support these young men in their development and to eliminate the culture of punishment that has become an overbearing part of their everyday lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this compelling sociological narrative, Rios describes the problems facing black and Latino youth as they come of age. A former gang member who went on to earn a Ph.D. at Berkeley, Rios returned to his old Oakland neighborhood to shadow 40 young men as they dealt with poverty, violence, and institutionalized racism. As he recounts their life stories, Rios deftly balances analysis with vivid anecdotes about uninterested educators, struggling parents, police brutality, and gang victimization. From elementary school on, teachers and law enforcement mark these boys as "dangerous" or "difficult," and harshly punish them for petty infractions. Once they accumulate "negative credentials," the young men are subject to increased surveillance—and are consequently more likely to end up in prison. Rios terms this criminalization "the youth control complex," and explains how it systematically deprives boys of their dignity and their ability to succeed at school or in the job market. He examines how the culture of punishment pushes young men into the very criminality that the punishment is meant to deter, and makes a compelling argument that better financed social programs and positive reinforcement could make all the difference. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814776384
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/27/2011
  • Pages: 237
  • Sales rank: 78,589
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor M. Rios is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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