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Click for more detail about Tales Of A Jailhouse Librarian: Challenging The Juvenile Justice System One Book At A Time by Marybeth Zeman Tales Of A Jailhouse Librarian: Challenging The Juvenile Justice System One Book At A Time

by Marybeth Zeman
Vinegar Hill Press (Feb 07, 2014)
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In a large suburban county jail, a rolling library book cart connects boys with their new counselor, a veteran schoolteacher. Faced with their unquenchable thirst for reading to help ease the unremitting boredom of everyday life, "Mrs. Z", now, "the book-lady," gives them the opportunity to share their hopes, their disappointments, their disillusionment and most of all, their anger at a system that is crushing their spirit and dreams for the future. What Frederick Douglass advised us about education rings true today—"It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men." Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian skillfully captures the sights, sensations and rhythms of jail life. Zeman mixes journalism, memoir and character sketches with facts about the juvenile justice system, describes the various agencies, provides relevant statistics, and specific court cases that become so palatable they are easily digested. Never a "slog". Interesting and engaging. She makes a strong argument that these boys need education, not jail time. “We have to recognize that we have a very narrow window of opportunity left to re-direct incarcerated youth toward education and living productive lives. Jail isn’t always the best solution. One million dollars invested in incarceration reduces 350 crimes; one million dollars invested in education reduces 600 crimes. It’s difficult to slap the word, criminal, onto a juvenile—someone who is 16 or 17 or 18, someone who has the rest of their lives ahead of them and is just as likely as you or I were at that age to change." Not a screed or an expose. These are real stories about real kids in prison, stories so real and so raw they become our own.

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