Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth

John Hubner, Author . Random $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-375-50809-7

It's hardly surprising that Texas, with its reputation for being big, brash and tough, would run one of the country's most aggressive programs for criminal youth. Teenagers who commit violent crimes are confined to a secure campus, but the Texas Youth Commission also provides them with an opportunity to reclaim their future. In this important book, Hubner, an editor for the San Jose Mercury News , expertly examines the big picture: the spike in juvenile crime from 1984 to 1994, and the legislative initiatives that led to the creation of the TYC. It's his ability to tie those facts to the reality of daily life at the Giddings State School through the eyes of the students, therapists, teachers and athletic coaches that gives this book its power. Hubner focuses on Elena and Ronnie, two young offenders at Giddings, as they are forced to confront and make sense of their pasts, re-enacting the most traumatic scenes of their childhoods and their crimes. Like Elena and Ronnie, nearly all the students at Giddings come from chaotic, abusive families. Hubner underscores the TYC's success in contrast to national recidivism rates for youthful offenders, which hover between 50% and 60%; a 2004 study reported that only 10% of graduates of the school's Capital Offenders group have been rearrested for a violent crime after three years on parole. Agents, Miriam Goderich and Jane Dystel . (On sale Sept. 6)

Reviewed on: 07/11/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 277 pages - 978-0-375-75998-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 231 pages - 978-1-58836-163-9
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