The Giddings State School is home and high school to 325 boys and 65 girls who have been convicted of heinous crimes—rape, murder, arson, and the like. But these hard-luck kids caught a break when they were sentenced to this rare youth correctional facility, which genuinely seeks to rehabilitate, not just warehouse, its charges. JOHN HUBNER’s LAST CHANCE IN TEXAS: THE REDEMPTION OF CRIMINAL YOUTH (Random House) argues that Giddings is winning the battles, if not the war. Through individual students’ stories, Hubner offers chilling insight into the brutalities these teens have both inflicted and suffered, making their crimes seem tragically inevitable. Last Chance in Texas shines a well-deserved light on this singular program and its success in curbing recidivism, and, by implication, it indicts America’s juvenile criminal justice system for its wretched failures.
From the September 2005 Issue Subscribe