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Examines the difficult lives of young Latino and African American boys caught in a cycles of delinquency in a legal system that limits their opportunities

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Part I Hypercriminalization 1 Dreams Deferred: The Patterns of Punishment in Oakland 2 The Flatlands of Oakland and the Youth Control Complex 3 The Labeling Hype: Coming of Age in the Era of Mass Incarceration 4 The Coupling of Criminal Justice and Community Institutions Part II Consequences 5 "Dummy Smart": Misrecognition, Acting Out, and "Going Dumb" 6 Proving Manhood: Masculinity as a Rehabilitative Tool 7 Guilty by Association: Acting White or Acting Lawful? Conclusion: Toward a Youth Support Complex Appendix: Beyond Jungle-Book Tropes Notes References Index About the Author

About the Author

Victor M. Rios is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


"As he recounts their life stories, Rios deftly balances analysis with vivid anecdotes about uninterested educators, struggling parents, police brutality, and gang victimization." -Publishers Weekly

In this compelling sociological narrative, Rios describes the problems facing black and Latino youth as they come of age. A former gang member who went on to earn a Ph.D. at Berkeley, Rios returned to his old Oakland neighborhood to shadow 40 young men as they dealt with poverty, violence, and institutionalized racism. As he recounts their life stories, Rios deftly balances analysis with vivid anecdotes about uninterested educators, struggling parents, police brutality, and gang victimization. From elementary school on, teachers and law enforcement mark these boys as "dangerous" or "difficult," and harshly punish them for petty infractions. Once they accumulate "negative credentials," the young men are subject to increased surveillance-and are consequently more likely to end up in prison. Rios terms this criminalization "the youth control complex," and explains how it systematically deprives boys of their dignity and their ability to succeed at school or in the job market. He examines how the culture of punishment pushes young men into the very criminality that the punishment is meant to deter, and makes a compelling argument that better financed social programs and positive reinforcement could make all the difference. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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