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Sociology 3390 - Book Review: Last Chance in Texas

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Jianna Bridges

1 December 2014

Sociology 3390

Professor Jesus Garcia

        Book Review: Last Chance in Texas

        Being majority a Republican state, Texas has been known for its more punitive approach to criminal justice. According to, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is number one in the country for executions. With such a strict approach to criminal justice, it is logical that this approach is equally as strict for the Texas juvenile justice system. Last Chance in Texas: Redemption for Criminal Youth by John Hubner takes a closer look into the juvenile justice system in Texas through the Giddings State School in Giddings, Texas.

        After reporting on the juvenile justice court system, journalist John Hubner was constantly informed on the subject of a facility in Texas that ran what is know as the most aggressive, but most successful, treatment programs for violent young offenders in America. Hubner later formed the thesis of whether or not it was possible that a state like Texas could  lead the way in the rehabilitation of violent and troubled youth. Hubner receives shocking answers  as he gains months of access to the Giddings State School, home to the worst of the worst.  This facility houses four hundred teenage lawbreakers convicted of offenses ranging from aggravated assault to murder. After an observation of the schools therapists and students, Hubner learns that the rehabilitation process is an extreme look at oneself through a  program that forced offenders to review their experiences that led up to the offenses they committed. The staff insisted offenders to recall heir past and reflect upon their crimes before and after they were committed, as well as the impact of those around them. Different techniques were used help the students remember the past that most have tried to forget. Forcing them to recall those explicit details of their lives and the pain they have endured allows them to address these experiences that ultimately led to them to violent crime. In most cases, the offenders were victims of violence well before they became violent offenders themselves. It was an emotionally painful and time consuming program designed to reprogram them and their behavior by understanding their own feelings and how their actions affected other people. Getting these youth offenders to truly understand empathy is one of the first few steps to redemption and rehabilitation.

        Successfully teaching these youth offenders empathy and correcting their thinking errors is the most effective way to rehabilitate a juvenile. After multiple discussion in Professor Garcias course Juvenile Delinquency, it was confirmed that in order to rehabilitate a youth offender, the offender must learn to see how their actions effect everyone involved and they must also learn to control their impulse reactions. With this in mind, the answer to Hubners thesis of whether or not Texas could be successful in rehabilitation is: yes Texas can be. This book explores how Texas succeeds in its mission of  rehabilitating the youth in order to reintegrate them into society as lucrative individuals. Hubners research of Giddings was effective because it shows the other side of the coin regarding Texasjuvenile justice system.  As previously stated, Texas is know for its severe approach to criminal justice but can now be viewed as a state that actually cares about the outcome of individuals that have gone through the TDCJ system.  The author also gives hope that people can change regardless of the mistakes they have made throughout their lives and gives insight on how to start the ball rolling to make those changes for the best.



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