Caught All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race, or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many others.
Caught

Caught

From WNYC Radio

All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race, or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many others.

Most Recent Episodes

Episode 9: 'You Just Sit There and Wait for the Next Day to Come'

Rikers Island has ended the traditional use of solitary confinement for juveniles. New York State banned it more broadly, but only for juveniles that have already been sentenced. In many counties, pre-trial juvenile offenders are still put in solitary. In this episode, WNYC teams up with The Marshall Project to investigate how widespread the practice remains. We also learn about the lasting impacts of being put in solitary, from a teenager named Imani, who spent over a month in solitary after she was accused of shoplifting. Finally, we go upstate with Z's mom to hear how he's doing. Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 8: 'I Want Someone to Love Me Even for a Second'

Girls make up only a small fraction of the incarcerated juvenile population, but girls often land in detention because they have experienced some form of trauma: abusive families, bad experiences in the foster care system, and especially sexual abuse. Policy experts even use the term "sexual abuse to prison pipeline," and they say it's why incarcerating a young girl perpetuates more negative behavior and makes it harder to exit the system. Desiree is a young woman who has bounced between foster care, detention centers, and residential treatment centers since she was 10. Even though she has been the repeated victim of abuse, she says she's been made to feel like she's the problem...and she's angry about it. But she has her own ideas about how to make things better and she's making her voice heard. Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 7: 'It's the Hardest Thing I've Ever Done'

The justice system isn't the catch-all for every struggling kid. Desperate parents with means can turn to a whole network of private programs before their kids even get caught. The state of Utah houses a $400 million industry for just such families. For an average cost of $513 a day, parents can send their kids to one popular option: wilderness therapy camps. These are programs that send kinds into the wild in hopes of curing all kinds of issues, including everything from drug use to screen addiction, anxiety, and defiance. For a young person named James, this type of intervention in his teenage years was life-changing. Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 6: 'Please Lock Up My Kid'

Status offenses are acts only considered crimes if committed by young people – things like running away, not going to school, or missing curfew. They are designed to keep at risk youth safe, but in practice, they can also become a pipeline into the juvenile justice system for kids who might otherwise not end up there. One of those kids is Maria, a young woman living in Walla Walla, Washington, who refuses to attend school. Washington state intensified its status offense laws after a runaway girl was found dead. It now leads the nation in jailing kids for status offenses. Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 5: 'The Teenage Brain Is Like a Sports Car'

Stephen is one of thousands of so-called "juvenile lifers" who have an unexpected shot at freedom today. Up until 2005, most juveniles could be sentenced just as harshly as adults: that meant life without parole, even the death penalty. Then a landmark Supreme Court decision made executing juvenile offenders illegal, and sentencing guidelines began to change. The court was swayed after hearing about teenage brain development. Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 4: 'Oh My God, What Have I Done?'

Honor has struggled for years with leukemia, homelessness and suicide attempts. On the anniversary of his leukemia diagnosis, he reached a breaking point: A terrifying eruption that he still refers to as only "the incident." Like many young people who struggle with mental illness, "the incident" pushed Honor into the criminal justice system. His story — and his rare shot at a second chance — challenges our understanding of justice for young people who commit violent crimes. Listen as and he and his family go through weeks of therapy in an effort to keep Honor out of prison. Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 3: 'He Really Wants to Shoot Someone'

At age 15, Z received his sentence in adult court. The reason why dates back 40 years, to a child named Willie Bosket. His crimes changed everything for kids and criminal justice. In 1978, Bosket murdered two people on the New York City subway. Despite the severity of his crime, he received a sentence of just 5 years, and the tabloids went wild. The result: a new state law that has pushed thousands of kids into the adult system, an approach that's been adopted by states across the country. We look back at Willie Bosket: his childhood, his extreme and atypical violence, and the specific challenges he presented to the juvenile justice system, even before he became a murderer. Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 2: 'They Look at Me Like a Menace'

In our first episode, we met Z. He's locked up because he and a group of friends robbed someone with a gun. But now that he's inside, his biggest problem is his temper. Z is a kid who's had mental health challenges since he was small, and when he's gotten the support he needs, he has thrived. Inside lock up, that support is complicated. It comes with a label. And like many kids in the system, he gets help mostly when he "turns up," which is just the kind of behavior that threatens his chance to go home. Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Episode 1: 'I Just Want You to Come Home'

Z had his first encounters with law enforcement when he was just 12 years old. Now, at 16, he's sitting in detention on an armed robbery charge—his young life has been defined by cops and courts. Dwayne Betts is a poet and juvenile justice lawyer who, in his own youth, was deemed a "super-predator," and spent nine years incarcerated. Both Z and Dwayne were guilty of the crimes for which they were charged; their stories are not whodunnits. But together, they introduce the central questions of this podcast: What happens once we decide a child is a criminal? What does society owe those children, beyond punishment? And what are the human consequences of the expansion and hardening of criminal justice policies that began in the 1990s – consequences disproportionately experienced by black and brown youth. Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Coming Soon: 'Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice'

The United States locks up more people than any country in the world. That starts young: Roughly a million kids a year get caught up in the criminal justice system. Over nine episodes, we'll listen as some of those young people tell their stories. They'll help us understand how we got here--and how we might help, rather than just punish troubled youth. Welcome to Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice.

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