Seeing the trauma and the pain among the youth and young adults incarcerated in one juvenile detention center was enough to propel Sam Burgett into a career of creating and providing reentry services within the juvenile and adult justice systems. 

Through years of working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth and adults in prison, jail, juvenile detention, and work release centers, one thing became clear. Our justice system is not full of hundreds of thousands of bad people. We have a very broken justice system in America. 

This ethnography, compiled over a span of nearly four years, provides a glimpse into the lives of a group of justice-involved young men, allowing readers to gain a deeper understanding of the individuals’ upbringings, the cards that were stacked against many of them from day one, their common desire to change, and their experiences cycling in and out of incarceration. The many trials and tribulations endured by the young men in this book provide a deeper understanding of the importance of measuring our successes in moments when engaging with and walking alongside those who are facing such adversities.

Sam Burgett is a social worker by trade and was the first police social worker in Porter County, Indiana. In 2019, she founded a nonprofit, the Community Change Center, in order to address soaring recidivism rates in Indiana. She enjoys teaching courses in sociology at a local university and facilitating trauma-informed justice response trainings in the community.