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The sobering truth of our juvenile institutions

first review
5out of 5

by Danny on 26 April 2012

?I CRIED, YOU DIDN'T LISTEN IS THE MOST POWERFUL TALE OF HORROR WITHIN THE WALLS OF PENAL INSTITUTIONS SINCE PAPILLON THE TERRIFYING ASPECT IS THAT IT DESCRIBES AMERICA'S JUVENILE SYSTEM" - Alden Mills, ARETE MAGAZINE

"I CRIED YOU DIDN'T LISTEN IS A POWERFUL INDICTMENT OF A SYSTEM THAT MAY HAVE LOST TRACK OF ITS PURPOSE." - Don Davis, THE SAN DIEGO UNION

"THE AUTHOR'S WELL-WRITTEN STORY COMES AT THE READER FAST AND FURIOUSLY; SHOCKING READERS INTO AN AWARENESS OF THE INHUMANITY OF AMERICA'S JUVENILE PENAL INSTITUTIONS."- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

An early Winner of the PROJECT CENSORED AWARD OF EXCELLENCE; I Cried, You Didn't Listen is a powerful story.
It is shocking, haunting and brutal. Although it is a rare and valuable document, what is exceptional is not Dwight Abbott's experience, but his clarity and courage in sharing that experience. Dwight tells the disturbing tale of a very young child, first committed to the care of the state because of family tragedy and bad luck.
Once institutionalized, he must learn to live within the cruel dynamics of a system that grants power through violence and leaves children at the mercy of predatory adults. He is continually faced with the need to choose between dehumanizing options: Be predator or be prey.
Even in Dwight's description of racialist violence we see the effect that the social system has had on him ? cementing stereo-types and prejudices that become self-fulfilling prophesy. Dwight's account is terrifying. Upon reading it, one must recognize that, faced with the stark choice between victimizing another and being a victim oneself, the morals and values that make sense in freedom fall away. Perpetrating violence appears as the best option for self-preservation. This is the fundamental dynamic at work in Dwight's institutional life.
I Cried, You Didn't Listen shows that, within incarcerating institutions, violence in all its forms ? sexual assault, cliques, crews, gangs, emotional abuse ? is essentially about power and control both over and above one?s own sense of self. - BOOKS NOT BARS
I have had the privilege of reading the ?Proofs? of the yet to be published revised and enhanced 3rd Edition of I CRIED, YOU DIDN?T LISTEN; as well as the 1st Edition. The 3rd Edition has many added personal pictures and details, as well as many testimonials. It is a MUST read; not only to remember the heartbreaking loss of innocence, but to once again ignite whatever ?call to arms? that the reader might take in exposing and attacking this ?cancer? growing in us and our society. Get the word out!
There seems to be a 'question' as to whether this book's content would be 'less valid', if Sonny had been incarcerated because he 'damn well DESERVED it; rather than through a 'crack' in the system. I would like to suggest that; even if the Author had been incarcerated because he is, or was, a 'blood thirsty murderer'; it would have absolutely NO bearing on the truth of Dwight?s message. This book is not, in ANY way, shape or form , an indictment of 'guilty' or 'not guilty', incarcerated children. This Book is an indictment of the 'handlers', administrators and 'supporters' that are hired, trained, retained or volunteer, under the auspices of the California Youth Authority.
The CYA, as it is, has been entrusted with the care and attempted rehabilitation of abused and/or abusive ignorant waifs. The truth of the matter is that, these children, when in helpless (?hopeless?) imprisonment behind closed doors, find any abuse they suffered or perpetrated, outside the CYA before incarceration, totally 'PALING' in comparison to what they will and do experience; and subsequently learn, as a way of life, inside the CYA.
Is there a 'way' or 'ways' to stop; or at least, 'curtail' the many abuses suffered by children by adult authority figures; especially in 'closed' rooms? Are there any possible steps that might be taken both inside and outside the system, by anybody, that may have a positive result? If so, these steps may need to be 'spelled' out and alluded to. The one obvious step resounding throughout this book is ?Chilling?: "Whatever the cost; do not enter the CYA; it IS a fate WORSE than DEATH!" No longer will I question the statement of many a ?escapee?; when they vow: ?I will NEVER be taken alive!? Danny Abbott
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