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Posted on November 8, 2011 by Christine Crosby in jack levine, Judge Sullivan

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


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.

COURTToo 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.



Judge Sullivan served as a juvenile and family court judge from 1999-2011 in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area of Florida. Prior to that, she was a general partner at Harris, Barrett, Mann & Dew, L.L.P. in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she had a civil trial practice for 22 years and became an A-V rated trial lawyer.

She obtained a Juris Doctorate degree from Stetson University College of Law, cum laude, and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with honors, from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, in Evanston, Ill.

Judge Sullivan received the following awards:  The Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Inc. Outstanding Community Partner Award; Clearwater and St. Petersburg Bar Associations’ Annual Judicial Appreciation Award; Stetson University College of Law Ben C. Willard Distinguished Alumni Award; Guardian ad Litem Community Advocate Award; Florida Association of School Social Workers’ Diamond Award; Salvation Army’s Children’s Justice Award; Pinellas Enrichment Through Mental Health Services (PEMHS) P.A.C.E. Award; Family Resource’s Family Advocate Award; Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) Domestic Violence Champion Sponsor Award.

She has presented at many conferences and seminars involving juvenile crime, the importance of prevention and diversion, truancy, domestic violence and mental health issues for juveniles. In February, 2011, she was a keynote speaker at the Adolescent Conference sponsored by the Florida Juvenile Justice Association and the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association, where every registrant received a copy of her book, Raised by the Courts: One Judge’s Insight into Juvenile Justice, released by Kaplan Publishing Co. in November, 2010.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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