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Discretionary Justice (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)by Leslie Paik
Synopses & Reviews
Juvenile drug courts are on the rise in the United States, as a result of a favorable political climate and justice officials' endorsement of the therapeutic jurisprudence movement--the concept of combining therapeutic care with correctional discipline. The goal is to divert nonviolent youth drug offenders into addiction treatment instead of long-term incarceration. Discretionary Justice overviews the system, taking readers behind the scenes of the juvenile drug court. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews at a California court, Leslie Paik explores the staff's decision-making practices in assessing the youths' cases, concentrating on the way accountability and noncompliance are assessed. Using the concept of "workability," Paik demonstrates how compliance, and what is seen by staff as "noncompliance," are the constructed results of staff decisions, fluctuating budgets, and sometimes questionable drug test results.
While these courts largely focus on holding youths responsible for their actions, this book underscores the social factors that shape how staff members view progress in the court. Paik also emphasizes the perspectives of children and parents. Given the growing emphasis on individual responsibility in other settings, such as schools and public welfare agencies, Paik's findings are relevant outside the juvenile justice system.
Falling Back documents the transition to adulthood for young inner-city men of color who have, by the age of eighteen, already been imprisoned. It is based on over three years of ethnographic research with black and Latino males on the cusp of adulthood and incarcerated at a rural reform school. The book portrays the complexities of human decision-making as these men strove to “fall back,” or avoid reoffending and become productive adults.
Jamie J. Fader documents the transition to adulthood for a particularly vulnerable population: young inner-city men of color who have, by the age of eighteen, already been imprisoned. How, she asks, do such precariously situated youth become adult men? What are the sources of change in their lives?
Falling Back is based on over three years of ethnographic research with black and Latino males on the cusp of adulthood and incarcerated at a rural reform school designed to address “criminal thinking errors” among juvenile drug offenders. Fader observed these young men as they transitioned back to their urban Philadelphia neighborhoods, resuming their daily lives and struggling to adopt adult masculine roles. This in-depth ethnographic approach allowed her to portray the complexities of human decision-making as these men strove to “fall back,” or avoid reoffending, and become productive adults. Her work makes a unique contribution to sociological understandings of the transitions to adulthood, urban social inequality, prisoner reentry, and desistance from offending.
"Paik's extraordinary data illuminates the tension between therapy and punishment in juvenile drug courts. A terrific read!"
Aaron Kupchik, author of Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear"This important, timely analysis reveals how meanings are constructed and bureaucratic decisions are created within a youth drug court."
Madelaine Adelman, Associate Professor, Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University
About the Author
Leslie Paik is an assistant professor of sociology at the City College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Table of Contents
1. No Love for the Brothers: Youth Incarceration and Reentry in Philadelphia
2. "Because That Is the Way You Are": Predictions of Failure and Cultural Assaults Inside Mountain Ridge Academy
3. "You Can Take Me Outta the 'Hood, But You Can't Take the 'Hood Outta Me": The Experience of "Reform" at Mountain Ridge Academy
4. "Nothing's Changed but Me": Reintegration Plans Meet the Inner City
5. "I'm Not a Mama's Boy, I'm My Own Boy": Employment, Hustling, and Adulthood
6. "I Just Wanna See a Part of Me That's Never Been Bad": Family, Fatherhood, and Further Offending
7. "I'm Finally Becoming the Person I Always Wanted to Be": Masculine Identity, Social Support, and Falling Back
8. "I Got Some Unfinished Business": Fictions of Success at Mountain Ridge Academy's Graduation Ceremony
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History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology