Born, Not Raised: Voices from Juvenile Hall

Born, Not Raised: Voices from Juvenile Hall

by Susan Madden Lankford


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979236631
Publisher: Humane Exposures Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 03/15/2012
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 889,087
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Susan Madden Lankford earned a B.S. in medical technology from the University of Nebraska, did graduate work in photography, and attended workshops with photographic masters such as Ansel Adams, Richard Misrach, and Ruth Bernhard. After years as a successful professional photographer, Lankford became deeply aware of America’s disenfranchised and began focusing her energy and her cameras on their lives and challenges. Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time was the first in her trilogy of award-winning books, followed by downTown U.S.A.: A Personal Journey with the Homeless and Born, Not Raised. Lankford also executive-produced the film It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing, a penetrating look at a central crisis in the American criminal justice system, stressing the social and economic value of remediation.

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ISBN: 978-0-9792366-3-1

Chapter One

Getting In Not That Easy

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft. —Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

When I decided to tackle the next portion of my criminal justice study and request access to Juvenile Hall, I first met with Judge James R. Milliken, the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court, to get my bearings. I had met Judge Milliken earlier, before I ever entered Las Colinas Jail, the women's detention facility that was the foundation of my book about women doing time. He was then serving on the Superior Court and explained what permissions I would need to enter that jail; he now told me that to enter Juvenile Hall I would need to go through the Department of Probation. The County of San Diego Sheriff controls entry to adult detention facilities such as Las Colinas; the Chief of Probation controls entry to Juvenile Hall facilities.

Henry Shankman, the Probation Officer for youths-at-risk in Oceanside, a suburb of San Diego and one of the toughest jurisdictions for delinquency issues, was my first stop. Our meeting was short and sweet.

Shankman summed up the conditions that lead young people into Juvenile Hall. "You're talking child abuse, you're talking detox babies, you're talking homes that look like they've been run over by a car and the family's still living there," he said. "Homelessness, problems in school, foster care, a lot of kids not in foster care who should be, kids getting into shoplifting, sex play that gets out of hand, wanting to steal cars—all contribute to what keeps us busy in Probation."

My next stop was a meeting with Al Crogan, Chief of the San Diego Department of Probation. Crogan provided his own list of the most common reasons that youths end up in the criminal justice system:

1. Leaderless family

2. Expulsion from school or truancy

3. Substance abuse (not experimentation)

4. Theft

5. Runaway status

Crogan agreed to my request to talk to these youths and ask what route they took to get where they are. But I also needed approval from Frank Bardsley, the County Public Defender. During our meeting, I learned a great deal from Bardsley, especially about gangs, guns, and drugs and their relationship to violent juvenile crime.

Bardsley: If a juvenile is charged with a serious crime and tried as an adult, he's no longer Johnny J. All those protections fall away. In the juvenile court, everything remains in a pretty closed setting with inaccessible records.

When you see some 13- or 14-year-old sitting on a telephone book in the courtroom because he's so small, unable to comprehend what's going on, being judged by a panel of 50-year-olds, it's real dramatic ...

Susan: Jim Milliken said to me that the only hope is with the youths. Do you agree?

Bardsley: I never met a 14-year-old and said you can throw this kid away at this age with no hope. What is the decision-making ability of any teenager? We just can't say that at age 14 or 15 you're finished for all your life—70 years. You'll die in prison. I wonder if people really understand. My message is that I don't think the answer lies in the courts at all. The courts are a necessary evil. Once the kids get into the courts, we've lost them.

The courts begin and end with Juvenile Court, and if that's not done effectively we'll end up with more and more people in more and more prisons.

Susan: How much youth crime comes from the gang element?

Bardsley: A lot of it, but gangs aren't as important in my view as guns and drugs. Getting into social groups has gone on for decades. When I was growing up in the Midwest in the '40s and '50s—you'll understand this—kids in Iowa who didn't have anything better to do got together in gangs, but they didn't have guns and drugs. They could effect a punch in the nose but not a blow to the brain. If we could get guns out of society, people would be a lot less concerned about gangs.

We have enough handguns in this country to arm everyone two or three times over.

For drugs, you need money. It's not so much they blow their brains out—they do that, too—but we're talking big money, and guns in the hands of kids who've seen 200,000 homicides on TV by the time they're 12 years old, who have no concept of what they're doing or what it all means.

I worked for the public defender's office in L.A. for almost 20 years, and a good part of that time I was trying nothing but murder cases. When I started supervising the downtown felony lawyers, I read every homicide case in the central district of L.A. and assigned the lawyers. I couldn't drive anyplace from downtown L.A. to the ocean without pointing out crime scenes to my wife—a homicide occurred on that corner, that alley is all guns. People are dying in that community all over the place because of the guns.

Susan: What percentage of the crime was gang-related homicide?

Bardsley: I think most of those kids are in some sort of loose association with a gang. Was it a homicide because of a gang, or did the person who committed a homicide just happen to be in a gang? To grow up in Watts, Compton, Southeast L.A., or the equivalent areas in San Diego and not be in a gang is tantamount to riding around with a death sentence. All the kids are in gangs. They almost have to be.

Bardsley gave me an overview of how the juvenile justice system functions. He surprised me with his optimism. He said that the book I planned to create, as long as each youth remained unidentified, could be a hopeful tool to help families comprehend the gravity of the situation faced by our young people today. He even suggested, passionately, that I go into the courtroom during sentencing to photograph a young teen from the back, to reveal through body language that the child was in shock and had no comprehension of the crime he'd committed.

He said Bill Boyland and Beth Shoesmith—public defenders who worked directly with the youths, managing their care in the hands of probation—could shed more light on the situation of these kids.

I met with Bill Boyland for lunch. Just as Bardsley had suggested, he was open, caring, and very willing to share his knowledge. He also seemed saddened, even desperate, that things were getting worse, not better.

When his boss Frank Bardsley sent him to work in the juvenile system, he said, "We'd both been practicing criminal law all our lives and we both know that people in the adult system today were in the delinquency system yesterday and the dependency system the day before that. Now our job is to straighten them out as dependents and as delinquents, so we can stop this thing."

I soon learned the difference between dependency court and delinquency court. Dependency court removes children from their families and places them into foster care or with another relative. Delinquency court determines placement for youths who have broken the law.

Susan: You accepted that job.

Boyland: It's called realistic idealism. It's a peculiar thing. We work with the dependency system and the delinquency system. We're the only ones who see it close up and understand its progression. Other people see it in pieces.

Boyland further described the two different aspects of the criminal justice system for children and teens. Delinquent youths are those who have committed a crime and are in the hands of probation—sometimes probation while living at home, sometimes more serious levels of incarceration. Dependent youths are in the hands of social services, and are typically placed into foster care or with a relative.

Boyland: I understand the criminal justice system and carry either the baggage or the badge of having been a judge and then a mayor. The cases are so stressful that the stress saps the strength of people who work with these kids. Especially women. They worry all night about their cases. They don't sleep. They get autoimmune diseases and become disabled. Women are drawn to this work because the;re's a whole lot of mothering to do. You're dealing with little kids. Even if they're charged with using machine guns to kill other kids, they're still little kids.

Susan: I can't get a nice tidy picture ... The child has a gun, his mother is on drugs, his father is gone ... The whole thing spins out of control and accelerates down a hill without brakes ...

Boyland: You just passed the humanity test, my friend. If you didn't come out of there feeling sick, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. I couldn't talk to you. You wouldn't understand. You look a little shell-shocked.

I'll tell you my story. I grew up in the worst part of Detroit, and our gang—12-year-olds—was switching from BB guns to .22s. Then my parents moved to Akron. We lived in a not-very-nice part of town. I was walking to school on my first day and a kid came up beside me, put a gun to my head, and explained he wasn't going to kill me this time because I was new in the neighborhood but if he ever caught me on that side of the street again, I'd be dead.

... And so I fled. I was lucky enough to find my way to a house under a freeway overpass owned by the General Tire Company and used for inner-city kids. That's what saved me. So what do you want to talk about?

Susan: Juvenile Hall is like a holding tank?

Boyland: Yes, it's a place of initial confinement. It's called detention. Kids are arrested or detained because the act they committed is too serious for dependency. Juvenile Hall is under Probation. It's the delinquency side of the court. The dependency side is social services.

You won't find social services in Juvenile Hall unless it's for special cases. So when you think delinquency think Probation and when you think dependency think the Department of Social Services.

When an adult goes to jail, that adult is in the custody of the Sheriff. That's jail. Prison, on the other hand, is a place of punishment and confinement run by state agents called the Department of Corrections. They are absolutely different things.

With kids, it's almost the same as adults. They're held in a detention center—Juvenile Hall, the equivalent of jail for adults—until the legal proceedings are over. Based on the sophistication of the crime, the youth is either remanded to the Hall for a couple of months or sent to a longer-term facility by the probation department. Therefore—again like jail for adults—the Hall is both a place of pretrial confinement and a place of punishment, for shorter stays.

We also have boot-camp facilities—mostly for younger juvenile boys—located in Campo.

When a judge declares a child a ward of the court—a special legal status in our society—the court interferes with what would normally be parental rights over that child. The court becomes like the child's parent. However, the way it is today, when the judge places a child on probation but allows him to live at home or with a relative, Johnny walks out of the building and already knows that the probation officer won't come around. "Hey, it's cool, man, I'm back on the streets, let's go do whatever."

Susan: So the next time they come in, it's with a different attitude?

Boyland: Each time it's a little worse. Each time, they've learned a little more about how to avoid the system. This is offensive to me as a lawyer because I believe in the rule of law that says dependent children and delinquent children should receive services.

"Services" is a real important word in this business. Johnny, the delinquent, and Tommy, the dependent child, have been taken over by the court. Their parents have been found unable or unfit to raise them, so the court, the social-service delivery system, probation, and the Department of Social Services are supposed to give those children the services that they need. For the dependent child, it may mean finding him a new home.

I'll play judge with you for a minute. The worst service you can get as a judge is Juvenile Court. Judges play politics in the judicial community. The top dog is the administrative dog, the presiding judge, who decides which judges go to which service—criminal, probate, civil, family law, juvenile law. The real prestige is to be appointed downtown and handle the most prestigious work, civil suits. To handle money. It's hard to attract judges to Juvenile Court.

It's equally hard to attract attorneys. A deputy district attorney sees Juvenile Court as purgatory. You want to be downtown, doing the real felonies, getting your name in the paper. Thank god there are some lawyers who want to do this work, who really believe they can make a difference. Try to get a kid on a good life path instead of a bad life path.

The juvenile delinquent system is a deprivation of a child's liberty to become a decent adult. It's our job as defense lawyers to pull the child out of the system. Sometimes making a difference means getting the child the right kind of services so that the psychological problem can be solved and the educational problem solved, because 40 percent of these children have severe educational issues. The problem is, it's expensive to fix kids. Society plays great lip service to, "These are our children, they're the hope of tomorrow, they're the next generation," but we don't spend any money to accomplish it. As lawyers, we see them using the cheapest solutions and sending the kids to boot camps because it's an easy and inexpensive way to house a child for a set period of time. It's the cheapest thing the county can do with a child.

The game's getting tighter. I've been doing this for six years now. Two things are happening at the same time. One is that juvenile misconduct is increasing due to forces we all understand—guns and drugs. At the same time, the amount of money being spent on kids is being reduced. So that means more kids will commit more serious acts and end up in nonrehabilitative confinement.

The adult system stresses punishment—you did wrong and we've got to punish you to teach you a lesson and protect the community. We've got to put a wall around you so you won't get out and rape Mrs. Jones.

The child's system, the delinquency system, is supposed to stress rehabilitation of the child, not punishment. But we aren't giving treatment to Johnny—who committed a sex offense—for sexually acting out. We'll confine him, but we won't rehabilitate him, and he'll come out either a child molester or a rapist.

The judge is in a box because the county doesn't have enough money to pay for expensive treatment for this child. We're loading everything on the next generation. They'll have to pay the debts that we ran up, doing things the dumb way, not engaging in preventative action.

This interview took place a number of years ago. This past year, San Diego witnessed what Boyland predicted can happen when John Albert Gardner III confessed to the rape and murder of two teenage girls and the assault of other teens who were lucky enough to escape. Convicted a decade earlier, at age 20, of assaulting a 13-year-old neighbor, he served time then, but received no treatment.

Communities were outraged as the recent story unfolded and the horror of the harsh reality sank in. Parents panicked and were terrified to let their daughters walk unescorted in broad daylight. The media obsessed on these sensational crimes until the passage of Chelsea's Law, which provides for a life-withoutparole sentence for the worst child molesters, but also offers ongoing treatment for paroled sex offenders deemed eligible for rehabilitation.

Will sufficient funds be available for rehabilitation? In the realm of juvenile justice, the Probation Department simply has no money to initiate the positive programs that Mack Jenkins, the current and brilliant Chief Probation Officer, knows only too well would work to educate at-risk youths and halt criminal behavior early in life through training, remediation, and literacy.

As I worked my way toward access to Juvenile Hall, I began to get a real sense of the problems confronting the attorneys as well as the judges in the overtaxed system of juvenile justice. By this time, my daughter Polly had decided to join me in the project, and we were able to schedule a meeting with the director of Juvenile Hall to discuss our goals.


Excerpted from BORN, NOT RAISED by SUSAN MADDEN LANKFORD Copyright © 2012 by HUMAN EXPOSURES PUBLISHING, LLC. Excerpted by permission of HUMANE EXPOSURES PUBLISHING, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword Vincent J. Felitti, M.D....................ix
1 Getting In: Not That Easy....................3
2 Inside the Hall: Beginnings....................17
3 Girls' Rehabilitation Facility: Table Talk....................31
4 The Roots of Alienation: Unmet Needs....................41
5 Timelines of Growth: Absence of Love....................49
6 Addiction and Anger: Acting Out....................61
7 Getting Stuck: Shamed, Abused, Not Safe....................67
8 Puberty: Disrupted from Within....................77
9 Ongoing Trauma: Neurobiological Impacts....................89
10 The Boys' Units: Sex, Drugs, Confusion....................97
11 Sexualized Aggression: Separating Sex and Violence....................109
12 Negotiating Childhood: Windows of Opportunity....................115
13 Dinner Hour: Building Trust....................123
14 "What Scares Me": Fear, Vulnerability, Aggression....................135
15 If They Had a Raft: A Call to Action....................147
Afterword Igor Koutsenok, M.D., M.S....................158
Appendix Commentary, Amy Lansing, Ph.D....................160


San Diego, CA

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Born, Not Raised: Voices from Juvenile Hall 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
undyingsong on LibraryThing 5 months ago
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.
etxgardener on LibraryThing 5 months ago
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.
eo206 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A powerful book about the juvenile prison system and how youth end up there. The author includes actual hand written notes from the youth talking about different aspects of their lives, such as first memory, family, etc. These writings paint a portrait of how children end up in the juvenile justice system. Each chapter covers different topics. One of the most interesting for me was early childhood and the psychological aspects needed to grow up with social and emotional health. As an early learning professional I related to many of the aspects written about. In this chapter the author interviewed a psychlogist who shed light on why some of the youth were incarcerated.
EmScape on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I'm going to need about a hundred more copies of this book. As a person who is currently transitioning from being a Chemical Dependency Social Worker to being a Children's Mental Health Social Worker, I found it incredibly timely and useful for me to receive this book at this time. The insight into the contributing factors and developmental arrests that lead to juvenile incarceration and dependency on the system was remarkable. The sadness the reader feels as discovering the thoughts and dreams, however stunted, these kids have chosen to share is heartbreaking. One can tell that just by listening to these kids, the author and her daughter have made a difference in their lives, which just goes to show how needy these kids are and how little it would really take to help them be successful. Unfortunately in our society, enough importance is not placed here, where it should be. Politicians pay a lot of lip service to "children are our future" but then funnel the dollars to back up that statement every other place possible. This book would go a long way to raise awareness if every elected leader would just read it. The only, tiny thing I could possibly take issue with is that there is not enough prescriptive at the end towards what can be done to fix the system. I realize this isn't a handbook for providers, and that the intent is to raise awareness, but I think even a layperson could use a little more information about how the needs of these children could be met. Overall, a very important book that everyone, in the field or not, should read. It should inspire you to become a Kinship Partner or a Big Brother/Big Sister at the very least.
Shadow123 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I was suitably impressed with this book. It's not what I expected. It's definitely written for an adult audience and not a YA one, and there's very little moralizing here. What Lankford does instead is provide a straightforward look at life inside a juvenile facility in the words of the juveniles there. It's a remarkable read in that the individual voices really shine through. Lankford, probably deliberately, lets them speak for themselves and adds very little commentary. I really appreciated that. There is a brief call to action at the end with some ideas about how these children can be helped.It was a really powerful read and I highly recommend it.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book and the two others of the trilogy, Maggots in my Sweet Potatoes and DownTown U.S.A, should be required reading for anyone who knows people, judges people, cares about, pities or disdains people, those people being the marginalized of our society.In this newest book, Susan and daughter Polly tackle the prickly problem of teens who are living in Juvenile Hall, essentially prison for children. Ms. Lankford's photography is astounding. Her writing is beautiful. But most importantly, she lets the people she and Polly interview speak for themselves.She has asked some of these teens to write stories or write about themselves or answer questionnaires. That she printed the actual written responses made these writings all the more powerful. Poor penmanship (I can relate), bad grammar, misspellings, even the occasional i dotted with little a circle as so many teen girls do, but lots and lots of heart and honesty. Violence, heartbreak, hardened shells hiding broken children, it's all there for the reading.Unlike the other books, this one does not have photos of the children interviewed because despite the horrible things some of them have done, they are still children. The photos in the book, both those taken by Ms. Lankford and those taken by others and used for children to write about, are perfect.This trilogy is so full of compassion and understanding without crossing that treacherous line into being maudlin. The author doesn't excuse the behavior but explains it. When I read the first book, Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes, about incarcerated women, I was very impressed but I doubted Ms. Lankford's ability to live up to that first book. Silly me. The second, DownTown U.S.A., affected me even more. By the time I got to this book, I expected great things and I was not disappointed. I highly recommend it as well as the other two.I was lucky to receive a copy of this book from the author. I almost wish I hadn't because of the possibility that readers will think my review is so positive because I got something free. I would be gushing just as much about this book even if I'd spent my own hard-earned dollars for it. I'm an unabashed fan.
MomsChoiceAwards More than 1 year ago
Born, Not Raised is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling Author and; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.