Writing From the Inside Out: A Good Thing to Do,
This review is from: True Notebooks (Hardcover)
Mark Salzman invites the students at the LA Youth Authority to express themselves in writing and he records their reflections in TRUE NOTEBOOKS. In their own words, they voice their love for the mothers, their anger at their absent fathers, and their remorse for their mistakes/crimes. Most believe in God and are committed to changing their lives for the better. But, most won't get the chance because today's juvenile justice system is not about rehabilitation; it is about punishment. And, most comment that their "home" environments have contributed to their criminal behaviors, so going home is not an answer for a "homie."
The boys' conversations describe the monotonous routine of the monastic, sterile detention center where they feel like rats in a failing experiment and showing emotions is not allowed. But, all the boys cry in their cells and their sorrow turns to anger. Tao says that society will face the consequences of the "benefit of lockin' kids up and throwin' away the key." When these adult prisoners are released, they will get "revenge."
So, why do Mr. Sills, Sister Janet, and Mark try to do anything positive for these kids? After all, making them feel special is dangerous because it creates an individual who may resist the "program." Salzman asks, "What is the value of a positive experience if it is only temporary?" His answer is simply this: " ... a little good has got to be better than no good at all."
Mark Salzman has recorded the students' dialogue and selected writings that accurately describe our present juvenile justice system. They ask the important questions that society needs to reflect on and answer.
At the end of the book, Salzman gives a website for the InsideOutWriters program. You might be interested in checking that out. You might also be interested in reading about my personal experiences teaching in a juvenile detention center at my personal website. Look under teaching strategies/archives/juvenile justice?.