Book Review – Raised By The Court: One Judge’s Insight Into Juvenile Justice

By Irene Sullivan. Kaplan Publishing, November 2010.

Book review by Jack Levine, Founder of 4Generations Institute, and Partnership Director, GRAND

Raised by the Courts has within its pages a series of emotional discoveries and inspirational messages, telling the story of one judge whose life has changed as a result of her efforts to help change the lives of the young people who appear before her because of abuse, neglect, abandonment and a wide range of delinquency offenses.

The three sections of Judge Irene Sullivan’s book – “Awakening,” “Despair” and “Enlightenment” – paint a compelling picture of the daunting challenges young people face and the outstanding work of adults who have chosen to dedicate their careers to improving the chances ofsuccess for a generation of our youth-at-risk.

Judge Sullivan is a grandmother of five with a heart that’s caring enough for the nation’s five million children whose lives have been altered by maltreatment – due to no fault of their own.

Through the eyes of the children who look up at Judge Sullivan in her Clearwater, Florida, courtroom, awaiting her rulings, comes a ray of intense hope that someone cares enough to be not only wise but just…not only concerned but committed to making changes for good. Irene Sullivan takes us to places we would never know about, to see conditions of confinement that we would be ashamed of, and asks questions which we all should know the answers to so that our children can live the lives we all know they deserve….

Many of the stories Judge Sullivan tells are tragic, reflecting the reality of young people for whom every door of opportunity has been locked shut – but whose tragedies are not as much theirs alone but society’s as a whole. We are losing too many of our children to violence, distress and the downward spiral of poverty, both economic and emotional – with disastrous results.

Too many of us are blind to the needs of a significant population of our children whose futures are dismal, and for whom failure seems inevitable. Yet, Judge Sullivan balances the failures with many extraordinary examples of outstanding policy reforms, successful program initiatives and absolutely brilliant beacons of leadership generated in communities nationwide.

Judge Sullivan’s mission is to capture attention to the plight of our youngest generation. But more so, she seeks to reach forward to a diverse population of people of influence, giving them the tools needed to advance policy reform by moving community opinion leaders and elected officials in the direction of investing wisely in our children and our collective futures.

When it comes to kids, it’s not whether we pay, it’s when. How dare we pay for failure when we know how to invest in success. A valiant ambassador for truth and justice, Judge Irene Sullivan’s words should stir us to action – and shame on us all if we fail to act.

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