With the narrative force of an epic novel, this groundbreaking investigative book delves into the day-to-day workings and life-and-death decisions in one typical American family court system, providing an intimate look at the lives of the children whose fate it decides. Santa Clara County, California, is part Silicon Valley, part suburban sunbelt boomtown, part urban slum, and part rural paradise; its problems mirror those of most cities in the United States. Granted an unprecedented court order giving them ...
With the narrative force of an epic novel, this groundbreaking investigative book delves into the day-to-day workings and life-and-death decisions in one typical American family court system, providing an intimate look at the lives of the children whose fate it decides. Santa Clara County, California, is part Silicon Valley, part suburban sunbelt boomtown, part urban slum, and part rural paradise; its problems mirror those of most cities in the United States. Granted an unprecedented court order giving them access to the families, social workers, and legal professionals of Santa Clara County's system, John Hubner and Jill Wolfson weave together stories that are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting, but always deeply human and profound: the battle between biological parents and adoptive parents for the right to raise a baby born drug-addicted; the family torn apart by what they claim is a false charge of sexual abuse; the gallant struggle of therapists trying to untangle an eight-year-old caught in the web of his parents' bitter divorce; the resilience of a preteen cast aside by his family and left to fend for himself on the streets; the nobility of a teenage mother raising her daughters in a neighborhood ruled by gangs. At the heart of these stories stands Judge Leonard Edwards, the 1996 recipient of the American Bar Association's award for the country's best judge in a court of special jurisdiction. In an era when the public is questioning the very value of its social service institutions, Judge Edwards and thousands of others in the trenches are spending every working day trying to make the system work, trying to protect and rehabilitate children who are too often forgotten by society, too often written off as somebody else's children.
Award-winning California reporters Hubner and Wolfson were given unusual access to the confidential proceedings of family court in their hometown of San Jose, Calif. The raw, unmediated portrait of the machinery of juvenile justice, which includes the voices of the families and children as well as of service providers, reveals how intricate and interconnected the problems are. In the courtroom of a juvenile judge, we view the day-to-day routine of welfare, delinquency and child-placement hearings. Writing with admirable conviction and convincing urgency, the authors make the point that the press usually ignores the system until a crisis erupts. Here their aim is to follow children and their families through shelters, courts and foster homes to see how the system really works. The thrust of this graphic report is a push for more government programs for juveniles and a plea for personal commitment through volunteering "to make somebody else's children all our children." (Jan.)
Hubner, a former probation officer, and Wolfson, news columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, tackle here the complexity of the American juvenile justice system. Granted unusual access to the records of the Santa Clara County (California) Probation Department of Family and Children, they were also allowed to interview the social workers, children, and families involved in confidential court proceedings The result is a gripping narrative of juvenile case stories, "the ordinary drama that...reflects the day-to-day working of the system." It's a story of the often well-intentioned counselors, legal constraints, substance abuse, deprivation, and child and family protection gone awry. More descriptive than prescriptive, the book's overarching theme is the lack of responsible community recognition of the necessity for commitment to the healthy development of "our" kids in our society. Especially appropriate and thoughtful reading for our times; recommended for professionals, academics, politicians, and the general public.-Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred