1. Name and quick summary of book:
Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth, by John Hubner, follows Hubner as he observes the “worst of the worst” juvenile offenders at Giddings State School. This treatment program is truly a “last chance” for may of the adolescents there – their last chance to change the direction of their lives before ending up in jail. Hubner takes the reader through a gripping and emotional journey as the teenagers go through the Capitol Offenders group and delve into their past hurts, childhood years, and reasons that contributed to their involvement in crime. Each member of the group must tell their life story and crime story and relive them by observing both in a drama, as well as participating in their crime drama as the victim. Once they have experienced this, they attempt to identify what caused their behavior, change it, and learn how to prevent future crimes.
2. Thesis/main point:
Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth chronicles the history of several violent youths at Giddings State School in Texas as they struggle to confront and accept their past. They learn about themselves and why they chose to commit their crimes. Then they attempt to create a better future through accepting responsibility for their crime and developing empathy, not just sympathy, for others.
3. Supporting evidence:
There are many stories shared in this book about the boys and their crimes. Most of the boys have physical abuse, drug addictions, gang affiliations or a combination of these in their background. Several of them have been bounced around to their grandparents, aunts and uncles or even foster care.
Ronnie had the most difficult time telling his story, shutting down for a couple of days before he was able to share. He was raised by his grandparents from the age of six, when his mother had abandoned Ronnie and his younger brother. His mother was Hispanic and his father was Caucasian, which was a problem for his father’s parents, who talked him into divorcing Ronnie’s mother, despite the loving relationship they had.
Ronnie’s mother left the area after awhile and moved in with her sister, where she often left Ronnie and his brother while she went out with her drug addicted boyfriend. When his mother was gone, Ronnie’s aunt started abusing him and lying to his mother about it. One time Ronnie begged his mom to take him with her, and she allowed him to come. While at her boyfriends’ house, he witnessed a brutal stabbing that caused him to start fantasizing about doing the same thing to his aunt. After more abuse by his aunt, Ronnie’s mom finally takes the boys back to her parents house, but soon abandons them when Ronnie was only six. He took his anger out by being a bully at school, and started to beat up his younger brother. His mother came back occasionally, but never stayed.
Ronnie went to visit her and her new boyfriend and was introduced to fighting by his mother’s new...