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Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup Hardcover – March 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Chura, Mr. C. to his students, spent 10 years teaching students being held in adult jails for crimes ranging from drug sales to assault. He saw many of his students come and go and return again to the facility as they struggled with lives of poverty and crime. Some students flourished behind bars in a place that, despite its regimentation and inanity, was safer than their home environments. He recalls the raw, gritty emotions of young men with little education and few options, exercising sometimes violent and childish outlets for all that wild, pent-up adolescent energy. Among his students: Wade, a young man he’d met years before, still showing stacks of loving photos of his mother’s slow deterioration into drug addiction and AIDS, and Kahlil, starved for attention and struggling with nightmarish paranoia. Chura describes them as children of profound disappointment—in parents, communities, schools—overseen by adults who were likewise disappointed and are unnecessarily cruel and officious. Chura offers a compelling personal look at the failings of the juvenile justice system. --Vanessa Bush

Review

Powerful . . . I hope some of the leaders of the Obama administration will pay attention to these gripping stories and will wake our country up before it is too late.—Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities

"David Chura's timely book ought to destroy our complacency. It takes us inside the locked-down world of neglected and abused youth who've been cast away into adult jails and reveals, through its succession of haunting vignettes and surprising turns, a truth that ought to shame us: when youth fail, it is most often because we adults have failed them again and again."—David Kaczynski, executive director, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty

"A painfully honest window into the hearts and minds of youth who are incarcerated and the 'keepers' who are responsible for their safety and security. David Chura has crafted a terrific book: it's at once riveting and enriching, and by its end, you'll insist upon a more humane and effective approach to young offenders.—Sunny Schwartz, author of Dreams from the Monster Factory

"In thick and unvarnished descriptions, David Chura takes us into the growing gulag of American youth prisons and shows us the fractured faces and bruised spirits of children who seem almost condemned to destruction by the structural ecology of class and race and ancestry. These young people-hurt and hardened-have become the icons of our times, and they cry out for Divine intervention. But it's not what God has done to them, finally; it's what we've done to ourselves. Read this book and know we must do better."—Bill Ayers, author of A Kind and Just Parent

"I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine is a light shining in the hearts of locked-up kids sleepwalking past the buried treasure they are and may never find. From his long and devoted work in prisons trying to breathe life into these hearts, 'Mr. C' is able to speak with authority and eloquence about how the American correctional system can almost bring the saintly to their knees. A book for anyone interested in the hardship and struggle, and (strangely) innate joy, involved in human transformation."—Dennis Sullivan, coauthor of Restorative Justice
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807000647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807000649
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,658,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chura's personability with the teenagers provide provides interesting lessons of what is like to be entering the prison system at a young age. Some of these kids are sitting on a precipice where a slight misstep will have severe lasting consequences on such precious years of their life. Along with the revelations of early adult incarceration the book is speckled with life wisdom. There also seems to be an underlying theme with the kids in lockup relating to abandonment and lack of self-worth. Recommend for community development and activists.
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Format: Hardcover
An honest and powerfully written account of the lives of children (and yes, they ARE children) in adult prison. What's being done to these kids comes close to meeting the definition of torture. A book that needs to be widely read.
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David Chura’s book could have easily been titled; How Much Worse Can This Get? If the Reader has never been in a jail setting, this is an eye opener. If the Reader has had experience in such a setting, it packs a pretty painful resonance. This is such a difficult review for me to pen because I fall in the latter category.

I hope Mr. Chura does not mind this advice to the reader, but save his introduction for the end–start instead at Chapter One–The Human Stain. Go into this memoir with no background, no statistics, no author biography–go with naivety–lacking knowledge, confidence and preconceptions of any kind. Just be yourself, seeing through the eyes of Teacher “Mr. C” as if in the first person. Let him be your experiential transport and emotions and conclusions all of your own making.

Mr. Chura steps aside and leaves plenty of room for experiential learning-this is something that great teachers do. Your emotions will be tugged in all directions but this is part of the process.

Perhaps at the end of this memoir, you the Reader, will ask , What can I do to contribute to positive change in my own community, home or school? If this book doesn’t move you in this direction, there is little else that will. If nothing else, I can promise it will take you on quite a ride.

One final note: If you feel that Mr Chura’s work is an exaggeration in any way, see also newly published, Crosswinds: Memoirs of a Jail Teacher and/or Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian: Challenging the Juvenile Justice System One Book At A Time. Maybe the juvenile system CAN be successfully changed one day-- one book at a time...
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Format: Paperback
This is a non-fiction book, but many of David Chura's stories about life on the inside of a detention centre for the juveniles that he taught there have a fictional quality. It's funny in places, and in some, as lyrical as many of my favourite novels. We learn something of the drug addicted, alcoholic, and downright appalling parenting that led many of the young people down the murky path to a jail cell. The author points to the fact that many of the young people leave these institutions more wounded than when they arrived, which only sets them up to continue with the reckless behaviour that will see them go through the revolving gates of the prison system throughout their lives. He hints at some solutions, but based on his experiences, a society set on retribution is not ready to contemplate these. If I ever write a novel based on such a setting, this is a book I will have to revisit for some pointed research.
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Format: Paperback
David Chura does a terrific job of telling the stories of the kids he taught in jail. In an institution that systematically dehumanizes those it incarcerates, Chura clearly retained his ability to see these kids as people--as individuals who, although they had often made bad choices, were still deserving of the respect and dignity that they were so often denied both in and out of the system, many of them for their entire lives. Chura also recognized the ways in which the correctional officers had had been victimized throughout their lives and saw in their brash and bitter attitudes that they, too, were often "children of disappointment," just like the inmates. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its conversational style makes it a quick, pleasant read. Great book!
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