February Staff Recommendations

This month’s picks by our staff recognize and honor Black History Month with several cross overs into relevant child welfare issues and incarceration. We hope you enjoy reading or listening to some of our current favorites!

Book Pick- Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World by Dorothy Roberts

Written by award winning scholar, lawyer and social justice advocate Dorothy Roberts, Torn Apart explores and exposes the fundamental racism of our current child welfare system, while ultimately calling for it to be abolished. Roberts argues that the American child-welfare system punishes Black families at every level and continues to operate on destructive and oppressive policies. This illuminating critique asks readers to reimagine our approach to child welfare and give rise to a system that doesn’t rely on investigating and punishing families, especially impoverished families, and families of color. 

Article Pick- A Lonely Child Finds His Way Out of Abuse and Homelessness, It Lands Him Behind Bars and After Decades in Prison, Should Adults Convicted as Teens Get a Second Chance? A Growing Number of State Laws Say Yes by Sylvia Harvey

This three-part series follows Cordell Miller, a man with a turbulent childhood who goes on to be sentenced to 97 years to life at just 17 years old. Each article reflects on the impact Miller’s childhood experiences of abuse, homelessness, and desperation have led him to the present moment in his life. Through his incarceration, this narrative allows us to explore “second look” law and sentencing relief efforts aimed towards those convicted of crimes before the age of 25. In Washington, D.C., the Second Look Amendment act even calls for judges to consider the offenders family and life circumstances at the time of the crime. Miller learns his return home after three decades in prison is just the beginning of his story. Read now.

Podcast Pick- Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children by journalist Josie Duffy Rice

Unreformed is a five episode investigative series documenting the history of Mt.Meigs, a juvenile reform school corrupted by racism in the state of Alabama. Listeners hear from former students who suffered physical and sexual abuse, grueling labor in the fields, and unlivable conditions all within the school walls. The podcast explores the idea of institutionalized juvenile criminal justice in our past and present and how racist policies from the Jim Crow era allowed places like “The Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children” to go unpunished for so long. Listen now.

Podcast Pick- Super Soul Special: Bryan Stevenson: The Power of Mercy and Forgiveness by Oprah’s Super Soul

As we celebrate Black History Month, our Executive Director recommends this powerful podcast: Oprah sits down with Bryan Stevenson, the law professor, civil rights attorney, and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who shares why he has dedicated his life to giving a voice to incarcerated men and women. Bryan has spent more than three decades challenging poverty and racial discrimination within the criminal justice system. He explains why he believes we are not fully evolved as human beings until we care about universal human rights and basic dignity. Listen now.