American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Indicting the Judges
Through the Eyes of the Judged: Autobiographical Sketches by Incarcerated Young Men, Stephanie Guilloud, editor, Published and distributed by the Gateway Program, Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505; 360/867-6215
When Simeon Terry was two years old, his father walked out, leaving him to grow up in a single-parent home. By the age of four, he had stolen candy from the supermarket. By the time he was 11, he was familiar with drugs and alcohol. At the age of 13, he began to carry a gun on a daily basis, at 14 he stole his first car, and at 16 he went to a juvenile maximum security facility, only to escape a few months later. By age 17, he had been recaptured, booked on charges of suspicion of murder, and returned to a juvenile maximum security facility called Maple Hill, where he would remain until May 12, 2001, his 21st birthday.
The eight incarcerated youth all admit to their crimes and take full responsibility for their wrongdoings. However, the reader is left to consider the role the environment the youth grew up in had on their actions. Terrance Turner, one of the incarcerated youth, states in his autobiography, "I solely believe that my environment was the major contributor to my present reality." Each youth provides details about his childhood and early environment, and most of them come from poor, dysfunctional families. While growing up poor or in a dysfunctional family does not justify the crimes the youth committed, it does leave the reader to wonder whether going to jail is really the right punishment for youth coming from difficult childhood environments. By sending youth who have made mistakes to prison, Turner says, "they're (the justice system) allowing minds of innocence to be corrupted by hopeless convicts and career criminals."
The autobiographical sketches in Through the Eyes of the Judged not only provide powerful details into the lives of incarcerated youth, but also raise many controversial issues--notably, the use of incarceration in the USs. After struggling through poverty or a difficult childhood, is incarceration really the right solution for rehabilitation of youth? One contributor sums up the incarceration system well, saying, "Incarceration should be for the system that incarcerates, not for kids that have made mistakes in life."
--Mary Biggins is a recent Peacework intern,
and an incoming first-year student at Colby College in Waterbury,