Communities Helping Kids: Why Diversion, Outreach, and Counseling Programs Serve Troubled Children-And Society-Better Than Prisons

By Marcus, David L. | The American Prospect, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Communities Helping Kids: Why Diversion, Outreach, and Counseling Programs Serve Troubled Children-And Society-Better Than Prisons


Marcus, David L., The American Prospect


WITH THE TEMPERATURE CREEPING ABOVE 97 degrees in Austin, Texas, Melissa Barlow hurtles along Interstate 35 in a Toyota Corolla, the air conditioner blasting. It s a Thursday in June, and she has a tight schedule. Barlow supervises caseworkers in an innovative program that helps youthful offenders stay at home--instead of prison--while attending school, undergoing drug treatment, getting career training, and finding jobs. All these kids are referred, either by courts or by probation officers, as an alternative to incarceration.

Although it's still morning, it has already been one of those days. A caseworker Barlow oversees is out of town; a second called in sick at 6 a.m. Now Barlow has less than an hour to arrive at the other end of Austin in order to prepare a teenager named Elena for a job interview and get her there on time.

In the 21st-century tech-and-tourism boomtown of Austin, traffic can be fierce. Barlow won't have time to dally with Elena; she needs to visit nine other teenage parolees in their homes. The rounds will last another six hours--and that's assuming all the clients are where they're supposed to be at the appointed times.

As Barlow cruises up 1-35, the downtown glitters to the west, outside the driver's side. A cloudless sky frames the new 33-story Frost Bank Tower, the city's tallest, and the graceful brick towers of the University of Texas, which has an endowment of nearly $10 billion. Just beyond the campus is the state Capitol, home of Governor Rick Perry, who's quoted in today's newspapers expressing regret that the Supreme Court has forced him to commute the sentences of 28 minors from death row.

To the east rises the jagged, low-lying silhouette of the other Austin--the unglamorous, strip-mailed capital that tourists don't see. Barlow swings east off the highway, past pawn shops and shuttered motels, past parched lawns and parked trucks that sell tacos to gardeners and house painters. She swings into a subsidized housing complex, a mass of pale blue vinyl siding and whitewashed cinder blocks.

She arrives at a first-floor apartment without a number and knocks on the door. There's no doorbell. No one answers.

She knocks loudly this time. The metal-reinforced door opens to reveal an apartment with the curtains drawn. A fan roars in a corner. A young teenage boy sleeps on a couch. The room's dominant feature is a television hooked into VHS and DVD players. Elena, eyes downcast, greets Barlow. Elena doesn't trust many adults, but she likes Barlow's agency, the Southwest Key Program, and its Outreach and Tracking project.

Elena desperately needs a job. Her father moved away when she was in middle school. By age 13, Elena was fighting with other girls, pummeling her older brother, smoking cigarettes laced with embalming fluid, having sex and hanging out with a gang called LC, or Los Cholos. She has run away from home, gotten into fights with classmates, gotten high on cocaine, crack, and rubber cement. She cycled in and out of the juvenile-justice system more times than she remembers. In a desperate moment, she head-butted a policeman who was called to halt a quarrel at her apartment. Now, three years later, she shows up at 6 a.m. every weekday for her court-ordered community service at the YMCA. She's stopped the fights, the drinking, and the drugs--but she's pregnant and single.

Barlow asks Elena if she knows the address of the place where she's applying for the job. She does. Barlow asks if she needs a bus pass to get back home. She does. Elena is dressed in slacks and a loose navy-blue top that conceals her belly quite well. While she doesn't want to lie to employers, she also doesn't want to advertise the fact that she's seven and a half months pregnant.

"OK" Elena says in a voice that's barely above a whisper. Heading for the Toyota, she flashes a tentative smile. "I'm ready." By day's end, Barlow learns that Elena spent more than an hour interviewing for a $9-per-hour job at a calling center--and got turned down. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Communities Helping Kids: Why Diversion, Outreach, and Counseling Programs Serve Troubled Children-And Society-Better Than Prisons
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.