Apprenticed in Crime

335 pages,
ISBN: 0770424651

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Brief Reviews - Non-fiction
by George Kaufman

THE CRIMES committed by young offenders that make it to the pages of our newspapers are so outrageous and sensational that they have created a polarized national debate over the Young Offenders Act itself. While much of that debate creates more heat than light, a new book by Kevin Marron finally does the subject justice and cuts through the emotions on both sides.

Apprenticed in Crime (Seal, 335 pages, $26 cloth) carries the same right-off-the-headlines immediacy that characterized Marron's equally timely Ritual Abuse, a mesmerizing account of a highprofile Canadian child-abuse case. Apprenticed in Crime is a bit irksome at the start, because Marron seems to want to come down on both sides of the controversy over the merits of the YOA. But, it soon becomes clear, that's because the subject is really too complex for easy answers and editorial moralizing. While acknowledging the righteous indignation caused by many youth crimes, Marron nevertheless presents a compelling, compassionate case for the view that more care and treatment of young offenders would deter their commission of adult crimes.

In the process, he also reveals other aspects of the topic that merit public discussion, such as the glaring differences between the ways male and female young offenders are treated by our justice and penal systems. Not surprisingly, the facilities and treatment for girls are far below even the unacceptable standards for boys.

If, as Marron insists, these crimes are often cries for help from the children involved, then Apprenticed in Crime is an impassioned and carefully argued cry on their behalf. It deserves to he heard and considered, especially by those who have strong opinions on the subject but little information on which to base them.


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