The book “No matter how loud I shout” by Humes Edwards is quiet an interesting book that is basically a nonfiction work. The book is about the author’s one year experience in the Los Angeles juvenile court. On this basis, he is able bring out a vivid picture of how the juvenile system looks like and how it works. Juvenile justice in this sense has been explored exposing the secrets that have been kept from the public view and scrutiny. Having spent time with judges, lawyers, probation officers and the individual kids in the Los Angeles juvenile court, he managed to compile a research on the system’s operation in the larger perspective. In this connection, Humes makes his main focus on five children through the forlorn halls of the Los Angeles juvenile court.
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Principally, he unfolds the story of the 15 year old killer that the system cannot kill. Secondly, the story of a boy imprisoned for a murder he did not commit is explored with a gripping tone. Thirdly, the story of an abused child who instead of being helped is imprisoned is brought into view. Again, the author explores a story of an honor student who drives by shooting. Last of the five children of main focus, is the gangbanger who finds rescue in the eyes of an impeded girl. Basically, the author has reflected on these incidents in order to address the fact that the system is in chaos although it seems that all things are working well. It is from this point of view that the main points of the author will be brought into light followed by an examination of the relevance of the main points. Altogether, the book will be explored critically along with a conclusion of the report.
Generally, the book has been written in a fascinating style that will keep one desiring to read. The reader is introduced to the story of Ronald Duncan ailing from a middle class home. Previously, he has no crime records but this time he is caught having shot his employers as they drove him home the next day as he boasted of the act to a friend (Humes, 1997, p.14). By so doing, he was revenging for having been chastised by them when he came late to the shop. In line with this he manages to get the money that they had received on the same day. For this Ronald was sentenced to a prison term service of eight years as he was nearing his 16th birthday, remaining only nine days. At the same time, the story of Geri Vance is brought into the context unveiling the fact that he was innocent and though he took part in the robbery he was not a killer.
So to articulate, the reason that made Geri to be caught was that he took a crime partner to hospital. For real he was not a killer but he was trying to help a life and in this sense being caught he was charged with murder after confessing the Best Western motel robbery. This would mark his sentence in the following years (Humes, 1997, p.71). Despite the unveiling of the events in the court, he came from a background of drug abusers, guns, bloody beatings and prostitution. In fact in his written letters he exposes the fact that his father prostituted all the day. From this background information and the fact that he did not fire his gun, Geri was subjected to an adult treatment as he has already turned 16.
Although he was determined to reform, his shouting proved to be an exercise in futility. He potentially faced a life imprisonment without a parole. Fortunately, a following plea bargain brought the years of imprisonment to a maximum of 12. A comparison of Ronald and Geri who ended up in the same juvenile court brings into view how the juvenile justice system has been incapacitated to handle cases. Accordingly, for the polite Carla James who is a good girl from a good family with caring parents is caught after shooting somebody in a drive shooting. She seems to be not afraid of anything and she is imprisoned for the murder. She also appears to be courageous and with a dazzling smile that would draw majority to her. Though she is aware of the wickedness of shooting she goes on to do it (Humes, 1997, p.46).
Amazingly, Carla’s crime is one of those crimes that have no root cause but even with the full knowledge of the immorality of shooting; ends up committing it anyway (Humes,1997, p.47). Though caring, loving and courageous, she is the same girl who shoots a gun unremorsefully. She is in the record of those girls who choose to commit violent crimes without linkages to some sort of abuse and deprivation. To the juvenile justice system this is a challenge. The issue of Sureno who was 13 years old, confessed that he was not taught how to become a father and develop good mannerisms although he was potentially capable (Humes, 1997, p.17). According to the confessions of the juvenile offenders in the writing class, it seems that the offenders have received undue punishments of which if rehabilitation is given they would reform.
Again, there is Elias in whose letter you find that what he learnt as he grew was how to hold a gun and shoot his enemies. He is remorseful and thinks that God created him to commit crimes. From this point, it seems that if rehabilitation facilities were available, he would change and reform. His cry due to a failing system that just gives punishment and never teaches ways to reform is evident when he says “Why didn’t God teach me to be a father? (Humes, 1997, p.19).
In the same line of thought, the story of Cartoon is brought in the context on how he engaged in a robbery of which he was finally caught and imprisoned later after treatment and checkups in the hospital (Humes, 1997, p.87). He engaged in the robbery as an influence of his friends and this is evident in what he accounts for by writing just before he was transferred to an adult prison. He explains how he was influenced by the homeboy and the fact that he was afraid before they got into the apartment whereby they ordered the three guys to lie down. He also remembers the girl he was interested in who had warned him not to go.
On another point of note, Humes (1997) testifies of George who at the age of five was rescued from his abusive mother and instead given to drug addicts as guardians. As such he engaged in drug abuse and became a criminal. Contrastingly, it appears that the system provided more room for George to be a criminal and this exposes the fact that the system is unfair and substandard. At age 13 he was a criminal and was given a probation of which he was taken back to the drug addicted guardians. Finally he steals a car and is judged as an adult criminal. If he was helped and given the right rehabilitative services, he would have transformed. So to speak, he had been brought up in an environment that made him more of a criminal than heal him from the abuse.
Following the above points in the book, the author can be classified as one that has managed to capture the mind of the reader by the way he has presented his points. He has managed to address the failures of the juvenile system in a very believable style. Having spent time with these kids in the juvenile court, Humes was able to establish the fact that some came from broken homes with previous records of less severe crimes while others were affiliated to gangs (Humes, 1997). The failure of the system has been attributed to the fact its failure to address the problems earlier more to save the children. He has also managed to expose the inability of the system to check the most basic information about a juvenile charge. This is given to the reason of the probation been administered by overworked officers who are in actual fact not apt.
From a broader point of view, the system has been exposed as to be carrying out the opposites of what should be done in reality. Even when the juvenile offenders are potentially good people by application of rehabilitation, the system is unable to offer the solution. This is because, the judges and lawyers to not have the right skills and the fate of one youth brought in for trial is judged from the size of the file backing the case. This is ridiculous and it is the level of unfairness that the author has pointed out in the work.
As a matter of fact, something seems to be missing in the Los Angeles juvenile system. Instead of helping juvenile offenders to transform, the system is helping to increase the number of juvenile offenders who translate to adult offenders. In consistent to this, the court punishes those it should rehabilitate and probate those it should punish. In this sense, the author has managed to expose the injustices of the system that has made it infective with alarming rates of crimes being committed by the juveniles.
From a reader’s point of view, the author presents a dysfunctional system that allows the young offenders to laugh it. Deals that make juveniles to be send to the adult correction facilities have been provided. Although the author does so well in addressing the injustices and giving a picture of how the system is in disarray, he has failed to provide means to repair the system. Nonetheless, the book is fascinating and interesting to read. I would recommend it a read for juvenile practitioners who would wish to contribute on how to repair it once they discover the underlying reasons for failure.
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