Book Review: Caught up: Girls, surveillance, and wraparound incarceration

Published date01 June 2020
AuthorAlison S. Burke
Date01 June 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Book Reviews
Flores, J. (2016).
Caught up: Girls, surveillance, and wraparound incarceration. Oakland: University of California Press.
200 pp. $29.95, ISBN 9780520284883.
Reviewed by: Alison S. Burke, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016818756485
In the book, Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration, Dr. Jerry Flores
delivers a perceptive and thought-provoking account of the lives of girls involved in the criminal
justice system in an area 40 miles outside of Los Angeles, CA. The book offers a detailed explana-
tion of the challenges girls face while navigating in a system designed to help them but in actuality
ensnares them further into the criminal justice system by ways of increased surveillance and inad-
equate educational opportunities. With eye-opening detail, Dr. Flores transports the reader to two
separate locations: a juvenile detention facility, which he calls “El Valle,” and a transitional or
community school, which he calls “Legacy,” The result is a book spanning 2 years of ethnographic
research, comprised of interviews, participant observation, and focus groups. It is an in-depth
analysis of the intersection of race, class, gender, and crime.
The author begins his journey with a comprehensive description of his first visit to El Valle, the
people he meets, and details of the ambiance of the facility. He transports the reader into a sterile,
cinder block, fenced-in edifice, which he describes as looking like a courthouse from the outside.
It is here where the youth in his study live. The facility itself holds approximately 400 youth, 90%of
whom are male juveniles, leaving one section of the facility for the 40 or so girls housed there.
Of those 40 girls, 95%are Latina.
The purpose of the book is to explore the girls’ experiences behind bars, what leads them to be
justice involved, and how they eventually (hopefully) exit the criminal justice system. Flores utilizes
myriad theoretical perspectives (such as feminist theory, life course, and labeling) to explain the
pathways to offending. However, what makes this book stand apart from other studies on justice
involved youth is the juxtaposition of his examination of the relationship between the juvenile
detention facility and the community school. The author is able to astutely and accurately scrutinize
the consequences of the connection between these two institutions. What he unravels are individual
stories bound in the similarity of victimization, substance abuse, and criminalized survival. The girls
struggle to transition from secure detention to a probation-funded school where they are drug tested
at random, observed constantly by probation officers, and kept with same youth they were incar-
cerated with. Being under constant surveillance is part of the wraparound services provided by the
school and as Flores describes:
In theory, this well-intentioned idea provides youth with support from social service professionals at
home, at school, and in the actual detention center. In practice, however, the results are less desirable.
I argue that wraparound services more closely resemble a phenomenon I call wraparound incarceration,
where students cannot escape the surveillance associated with formal detention despite leaving the actual
detention center. (p. 7)
Criminal Justice Review
2020, Vol. 45(2) 267-273
ª2018 Georgia State University
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