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Deep Dives

Malia Politzer
Editor of International Investigative Journalist
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piqer: Malia Politzer
Sunday, 30 December 2018

Caught: A Podcast About The Incarceration Of Children In The United States

Everyone has heard about the detention and subsequent separation from their families of Central American children at the US–Mexican border. But the US also routinely imprisons American children, many of whom serve years of prison time for one-time, stupid mistakes they would probably never repeat. 

The nine-episode podcast Caught, produced by WNYC, tells the stories of the children who find themselves stuck in the criminal justice system. This is not a whodunnit—the children interviewed did indeed commit crimes. But the larger question is how our society should treat children and minors who make stupid mistakes, and how those mistakes should impact the rest of their lives.

In the first episode, we meet Z, who ends up in prison after impulsively agreeing to participate in a carjacking. We also meet Dwayne Betts, a juvenile justice lawyer who, in his youth, was a self-described "super predator". 

Like most issues having to do with the criminal justice system in the US, race is also an ongoing part of the conversation throughout the series (roughly 60% of the children currently incarcerated in the US prison system are either black or Latino). Overall, it's a nuanced, well-reported series that keeps the voices of the children concerned front and center, while also providing much needed context and analysis. Central to the series is the larger question of the human cost of how we treat minors who have made—albeit large—mistakes. Well worth a listen!  

Caught: A Podcast About The Incarceration Of Children In The United States
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