Juvenile Justice

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Nell Bernstein, award-winning journalist and author of “Burning Down The House:  The End of Juvenile Prisons.”

Today, youths in juvenile prisons are disproportionately children of color from poor neighborhoods, and Bernstein says they’re more likely to have been victims of violence than to have committed it. And African American teens are locked up at five times the rate of whites.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

After spending years wading through temporary homes in the foster system – some for most of their lives – 28 children were adopted into permanent homes today during legal proceedings at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center on South Congress Avenue. It is one of dozens of events taking place across the state during National Adoption Month.

One of the adoptees was 18-year-old Alexander Wells, a teenager who had been removed from his biological family twice and had changed foster homes many times, according to a state official. Wells was smiling throughout the adoption proceeding as he sat next to his new mother and answered questions from their family attorney, Denise Hyde.

“Why is it important for Judge Hathaway to legally make you their child?” Hyde asked Wells.

“This is my new forever family,” he responded. “I get to come home for Christmas. I get to come home for all the holidays. It’s a place where I get to have a solid ground to come home to, a solid place. A home that I can call mine now.”