A Childhood Behind Bars

Email a Friend
The fairness of our criminal justice system has come under the microscope in recent years.
From and

Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this segment.

All this week, our co-producer WNYC is running a series called "Kids in Prison," which explores what it's like to be a minor in an adult correctional facility.

WNYC's Sarah Gonzalez spoke to inmates in New Jersey, and that's where she met Jamal. He was tried as an adult for a crime he committed when he was 14, and he's currently serving a nine year sentence. And he isn't alone — according to data from the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Court, he's one of 692 minors tried as adults in the past five years.

Critics have argued that prosecuting minors as adults can have a number of negative consequences: Not only does it disproportionately impact youth of color, but sentences are harsher than those given in the juvenile system.

Consequently, this can lead to minors being housed in adult facilities where they have little access to developmentally appropriate resources and rehabilitation. Gonzalez wondered if there was a better way, and she had to travel all the way to Germany to find it. 

Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear our conversation with Gonzalez, and check out her full report on German prisons here