The book, was written by Pulitzer prize winner, Edward Humes, in 1996. The book is written in a way that allows the reader to get a glimpse into the broken juvenile justice system. The author, Edward Humes, conducted research in California studying the state’s juvenile justice system for one year. He specifically sat in cases under Judge Dorn. Humes focused on system experiences of seven juveniles whose crimes ranged from murder, armed robbery, and assault. Throughout the book, Humes exposes the disturbing discussions of, what causes teenagers to commit crimes and should they be sentenced as adults?
The seven juveniles whose cases are studied by Humes are, Elias, Geri, George, Ronald, Carla, John, and Andre.
Judge Dorn is the judge of these cases. Judge Dorn saw himself as a powerful person. However, he was not a fan of sending juveniles to adult court, but he did not like offenders that did not listen to his rulings and violated his orders. Not very many of defense attorneys like Dorn, but he puts on a good act for parents in the audience.
Judge Dorn preaches about education constantly and lectures children on what will happen if they don’t attend school.
Another character involved on the legal side of things is deputy district attorney, Peggy Beckstrand. Peggy previously worked in sexual assault cases, but she was moved to juvenile justice. Peggy’s character struck a chord with me. Peggy had been working in the system so long that she no longer saw the juveniles as people.
She did not consider their backgrounds anymore. She saw the troubled youth as the crimes the committed, and it was her job to prosecute them. Yet again, Peggy had to have this attitude because she quickly learned you cannot get attached to the juveniles because they will consume your entire mind.
The juveniles who had the most engaging and interesting cases were Elias, Ronald, and Carla. Elias grew up with the street life surrounding him. His home life was less than ideal, and he knew nothing but crime. However, Elias proves to be an amazing poet in his writing class. Elias never had an urge to clean up his act until he found out he was going to be dad. Nevertheless, the system failed Elias, and he was charged as an adult for his crimes. Ronald Duncan is the average boy until he commits a beyond average crime. He grew up in a middle-class home with good parents. Ronald was never deprived of any necessities growing up. Although, Ronald is a sociopath. One day, he tried to rob his employers while they were giving him a ride home, and it ended in him killing them both with single shotgun bullets.
Ronald even took the time to reload his shotgun so he could kill his second victim. He showed no remorse for them. The screaming between the first shot and him reloading the gun meant nothing to him. Ronald even bragged about the murders to his classmate. Unfortunately, Ronald was nine days shy of being 16, so was not able to be tried as an adult. Carla James appeared to be the most interesting of all juveniles. She was a reliable student and she had a good home life. At school, she even worked in the office and practically ran the show. Carla’s innocent reputation was more than misleading. Regardless of Carla’s diligent school behavior, she was a gang banger. The excitement of gangbanging attracted Carla. She loved the respect of the gang even more. Carla was the shooter in a gang drive by shooting. However, she was punished for her crimes and turned her act around eventually.
The few cases of Elias, Ronald, and Carla illustrate just how broken the juvenile justice system is. The system does not get involved to help a juvenile when they start committing minor crimes. Instead, the system chooses to wait to get involved until a juvenile commits a crime so bad that they are too deep into the system. Then, the system ignores a juvenile’s emotional and mental health. Many of the backgrounds of the children are not taken into account whatsoever. Rather, they are prosecuted as adults (if they are 16 years old), and they are not given a chance to rehabilitate. The book showed that juvenile in the 90s were no longer seen as people, and they became irredeemable. Overall, the book, “No Matter How Loud I Shout,” is a one that struck a chord with me. The book was such a good read, but it was also bad at the same time.
I personally thought it was intriguing because the author, Edward Humes, put the reader inside of the character’s minds. Especially during the reading circles, I felt like I was there with the kids, and I could feel the emotional tension. I can only imagine the emotion Humes felt while conducting his research because my emotions were a roller coaster throughout the chapters. I as the reader, was able to see how the juveniles rationalize crime and how the prosecutor only sees the juveniles as the crimes they committed. This part of the book sickened me. When were people only seen as crimes and not as human beings? I would say the book was somewhat bad simply because of the unfortunate topic and the statistics. I feel like the system probably hasn’t improved much since the book was written. In addition, I think it’s even more important now than ever that our juveniles are given a chance to rehabilitate.
Although the topic was disturbing and saddening, Humes did an excellent job at drawing attention to the unjust system. In addition, this book was a very slow read for me. Any point the author made was repeated over and over. I would argue that Humes added in his own emotions in the book, but I think his reflections on the research would have been a nice added touch. I feel like this book could almost be a series. The second book could include the problems noticed within the first book and ways they were addressed. In conclusion, this book had both pros and cons for me, but I think this book is most known for revealing the hopelessness that America’s juvenile justice system holds for struggling youth.