Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration, was written by Jerry Flores, someone dedicated not only to the study of juveniles in the criminal justice system but also to better understanding the effects of racial and gender bias on those in the criminal justice system. As a native of southern California, Flores interviewed and/or observed young girls (most of them Latina) in two key institutions in southern California: El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility and Legacy Community School. In these two locations Flores gathered signiﬁcant evidence to support his argument that young girls (primarily Latina) who ﬁrst encountered the juvenile justice system are more likely to become victims to the phenomenon of wraparound incarceration because of the ways in which the juvenile justice and educational systems treat them. Overall, the book is very informative and engaging because it reads more like a narrative than a scholarly text. He goes into vast detail at the beginning of every chapter, detailing all of the surroundings he encountered to try and place the reader in his own setting, as if the reader is also a part of the interviews he conducted. To the reader, Flores can seem as if he is closely tied to his participants, and as if he wants his readers to feel that same connection. However, Flores also gives detailed citations to help support his ﬁndings, and also gives relevant analyses of his ﬁndings in a way that the reader is not simply digesting numbers and statistics. In addition, the book has a pleasing ﬂow, as the
ﬁrst chapter began with the back stories of his more noteworthy participants and their ﬁrst encounters with the juvenile justice system. He then moves on to the type of lives these girls had in the El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility, and then their transitions back into the educational system (either to Legacy Community School or traditional schools). Finally, Flores ends with the ways in which some of his participants avoided wraparound incarceration and how others did not. The book’s ﬁrst chapter focuses on the girls’ ﬁrst contact with the criminal justice system and their home lives before then. A common factor between many of his participants were their struggles with abuse. In many of their homes these girls experienced mental, emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Flores goes on to say that these different types of abuse, experienced through family and community members, often led girls to seek comfort and stability outside of their homes. Many of his participants sought romantic partners to accomplish this goal, while others found a form of relief through drug use. If these girls could not ﬁnd other homes with romantic partners or friends, they saw no other option than to live on the streets. Because of this type of upbringing, Flores theorizes that these girls ﬁrst came into contact with the criminal justice system because of their home life. In fact, he adds that many of his participants who were ﬁrst arrested and then released on house arrest were more likely to be rearrested because they continuously tried to escape their unsafe environments. This entire chapter provides a short introduction into many girls’ lives, highlighting their bad moments and the reasons that Flores believes they came across the criminal justice system. It is an introduction to his participants and a glimpse of the types of responses he had from his participants about their pasts.
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The next chapter delves into his participants’ lives in the El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility. His main point in this section is that this detention facility for his participants was their introduction to institutionalization, and how to live and survive in the juvenile justice system. One of his supporting pieces of evidence was the importance of ﬁghting in El Valle. Through his observations, Flores noted that ﬁghting was not only used for enhancing social status, but it was even promoted by the staff and faculty. In a way, Flores describes ﬁghting as a type of currency. If girls fought during school time in the facility, then all classes were canceled for the rest of the day and everyone was sent back to their cells. This made the job for the correctional ofﬁcers easier because they would not have to supervise the girls out of their cells, which meant less work. If girls even fought to the point where the aggravator was put in an isolation cell, correctional ofﬁcers would gift them with extra snacks or other amenities. Girls who were known for ﬁghting, also known as “shot callers”, even made the jobs of the school teachers easier. If the teachers gave these shot callers extra niceties, like letting them choose a song to play in class, the girls in return would help the teacher establish order in class. For example, a teacher would reward a shot caller if they yelled at other students to pay attention or to stop talking. Flores’s point overall is that ﬁghting was not only a way for the girls to establish their own identity, but also a necessity to maintain structure in the facility. Also in the second chapter, Flores states that it is necessary for girls to make the decision on whether or not they will ﬁght for themselves. One without any knowledge about juvenile detention facilities might have the mistaken belief that good behavior and non-ﬁghting juveniles would get better treatment from the staff and faculty, but to Flores it was the exact opposite. He noted that those who chose not to ﬁght actually had a harder time in the facility. Those who did not ﬁght did not have many friends, if any at all. In addition, he observed that they would actually get treated worse by the correctional ofﬁcers. Fighting in El Valle made their jobs easier at times, which earned girls who fought respect from the correctional ofﬁcers as well as their fellow inmates. Therefore, girls who did not ﬁght were defying social norms and were not treated well by corrections ofﬁcers in any respect. In general, Flores states that acclimating to this environment gave the girls structure, and was considered safe in comparison to their previous homes. In a way, Flores describes this acclimation as a beginning to becoming dependent on institutions and the structure they provided. In chapter three, Flores moves on to the girls being released from El Valle on probation and going to the Legacy Community School, speciﬁcally its Recuperation Class (a speciﬁc program for those with behavioral and/or drug abuse problems in Legacy Community School). As a
whole, Flores focuses on Legacy Community School being a form of alternative education for prior offenders, yet still being an institution that looks and feels no different to the girls who had just left El Valle. The school has security guards, metal detectors, surveillance cameras and the like to keep these girls in a constant feeling of being watched. Random drug tests were given to the students and many of the faculty had the opportunity to report on the girls’ behaviors to their probation ofﬁcers, both of which could result in violations of probation. The most difﬁcult aspect of life outside of El Valle was abiding by their probation guidelines, which were extremely strict. These probation guidelines in the state of California, as well as the stress of school work, often led many girls to leave Legacy Community School altogether, which was also a form of probation violation. Moreover, Legacy Community School was co-ed, and many girls would ﬁnd themselves victims to gendered violence and discrimination, primarily on the school bus. The main beneﬁt that Flores found in the Recuperation Class was that it was focused on those who had served time in the El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility, and many of the girls were able to achieve high school credits at a normal or accelerated rate in comparison to traditional high schools. Flores also points out many of the problems with the juvenile probation guidelines in California and the ways in which the Legacy Community School can be another form of surveillance on these girls, which could ultimately lead to a greater dependency on institutionalization. Yet, Flores also makes a point to remark that forms of alternative education beneﬁt juvenile offenders more than traditional schools, even though alternative education does need more work to successfully educate these girls without aiding the cycle of wraparound incarceration. The fourth chapter of Flores’ book focuses on girls who attended El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility and were then placed in traditional high schools. Flores goes into greater detail of how traditional schools are failing juvenile offenders who are now on probation. Many of the girls he interviewed reported that they actually felt uncomfortable in a non-institutionalized place. They reported that they felt a lack of attention and understanding from their instructors, and that these feelings were intensiﬁed if their instructors or school faculty members knew that they were on probation. Flores believes that these adults who knew of the girls’ probation created a stigma against the girls, and automatically assumed that they would be worse students and treated them that way. In addition, Flores points out that many of the girls felt intense racial and gender biases against them, from their teachers and peers. They reported that because they dressed and acted a certain way combined with their gender and most of the participants being Latina, led their teachers and peers to assume that they were gang
related or trouble makers in the classroom. Flores explains that girls who do not act in accordance to traditional expectations (being quiet and well-mannered) are stigmatized, and the fact that they were also on probation ampliﬁed the discrimination they felt in a traditional school setting. This is important to Flores because he believes an institutionalized form of schooling like Legacy Community School is a ﬂawed system, but that traditional high schools are seemingly more ﬂawed and did not aid his participants to gain an education and leave wraparound incarceration services. In the ﬁnal chapter Flores concludes that there are ways in which the girls in his study left the cycle of wraparound incarceration and avoided the adult criminal justice system altogether, yet there were also those who did not. Flores theorized that there were three ways speciﬁcally in which a few of his participants avoided wraparound incarceration. The ﬁrst was through the development of agency in order to complete their probation. If girls could somehow buckle down and ﬁnish their probation even with the stigmas and many probation regulations against them, then they could also exit wraparound services and avoid the adult criminal justice system. Similarly, if girls could ﬁnd a stable home environment unlike the ones they had in their childhoods or the stability they found in institutions like El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility, then they were more likely to no longer encounter the criminal justice system. Finally, if girls could develop a bond with someone, like a probation ofﬁcer, they were more likely to leave their deviant behavior behind because they would have someone consistently inﬂuencing them in a more positive way. Altogether, these options are part of the Lifecourse Theory to crime. That states that it is natural for many young adults to act out in deviant ways, but that if they keep doing deviant acts past eighteen years old that they are more likely to become repeat offenders in the future and possibly never leave the criminal justice system. Following the Lifecourse Theory, Flores ampliﬁes the importance of developing new systems for juvenile offenders that do not increase the possibility of juvenile offenders’ succumbing to wraparound incarceration. He believes that if young adults are likely to offend, and are then caught and sent to a wraparound incarceration service in which they become dependent on institutionalized environments, they are being taught that this is where they belong. Overall, Flores’ opinions and evidence are well put together and suggest that more does need to be done in the
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juvenile justice system. Deviant behavior is a problem that needs to be addressed, but as Flores suggests, the way in which the juvenile justice system is addressing that behavior now may actually be aiding the problem. As such, the book would be especially helpful for researchers who study the developmental challenges of youth involved in justice systems (Baglivio et al. 2016; Horan and Widom 2015; Ryan et al. 2016; Perez et al. 2016) as well as researchers who focus on environmental factors that have different effects on youth because of their race or gender (see Newsome et al. 2016; Evans et al. 2016). This book in its entirety makes the reader question whether enough is being done for these young offenders, and if the ways in which we are treating them now are enough to teach them to no longer offend. In Flores’ eyes, we are not doing enough, but alternative education programs like Recuperation Class may be a good ﬁrst step. Throughout the entire book, it is as if Flores is trying to force a personal connection between the reader and his participants, so that his audience not only reads that more needs to be done but also feels that urge as well. Compliance with Ethical Standards Conﬂict of Interest interests.
The author declares that she has no competing
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