Fully 80 to 90 percent of American teenagers commit illegal acts that could lead to time behind bars. One in three U.S. schoolchildren will be arrested by age 23. Most of us simply outgrow bad behavior and go on to live productive lives. Low-income black and brown teens, however, are disproportionately sent to juvenile prison. Compared to youth from similar backgrounds with similar offenses who are not incarcerated, they are twice as likely to go to prison as adults.
Recent reports of horrific abuse in New York’s Rikers Island Jail and unmarked graves at Florida’s Dozier School are just two illustrations of the system’s failure.

Award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein in her new book, “Burning Down the House: An End to Juvenile Prison,” opens a window onto the hidden lives of incarcerated children, revealing heartbreaking evidence that a system designed to protect and rehabilitate them has turned on them instead. She shares crucial research and tells the compelling stories behind the data. Her book could become “The New Jim Crow” for the juvenile system.

Ms. Bernstein will join local youth from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge to explore and discuss the book.