What They’re Saying About Burning Down the House

Nell Bernstein’s latest book, Burning Down the House (published June 3, 2014), is a searing look at the shameful state of juvenile justice in the United States. “Raze the buildings, free the children, and begin anew,” Nell writes, staking the claim that our juvenile prisons are beyond redemption. The book has been covered widely this week across numerous platforms – here’s a round-up of reviews, interviews, and Q&As below:

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that the book “offers promising alternatives to jail and issues an urgent and unequivocal moral indictment: We’ve purchased peace of mind at the cost of the health, and in some cases the lives, of children - a bargain perhaps as criminal as the worst of youthful offenses.”

Over on NPR’s Fresh Air, Nell chatted with Dave Davies about the types of offenses that juveniles typically commit, sexual abuse in juvenile facilities, and potential alternatives to juvenile incarceration.

Actor Wil Wheaton reacted strongly to the Fresh Air interview, calling the American juvenile justice system “heartbreaking” and “infuriating.”

Burning Down the House appeared in Glamour’s June 6th “What to Read” recommendations. Entertainment writer Megan Angelo called the book “riveting” and “devastating.”

MSNBC featured an interview with Nell Bernstein following a story regarding a group of twelve-year-olds who are being charged as adults for stabbing one of their friends.

AlterNet featured a Q&A with Nell in which she discussed some of the salient points of her book, such as the cruel conditions of juvenile prisons, the disproportionate number of impoverished children in the juvenile justice system, and the potential for future change.

And finally, in a review for The Week, Andrew Cohen writes, “Read this book. If you are a parent, especially, it may change your life. The kids in this book could be my kid. They could be your kid.” In a tweet about his article, Cohen likened Bernstein to the Rachel Carson of the juvenile justice movement.

Burning Down The House continues to gather praise including The Daily Beast's Best Big Ideas of 2014 and Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Burning Down The House garnered an honorable mention in the 2015 Scribes Book Awards as well as the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts.



"Intervention, Not Incarceration: PW Talks with Nell Bernstein," Publishers Weekly 25 April 2014

"Burning Down The House," Kirkus Review May 2014

"Burning Down The House," Good Reads

"Activist-Writer Nell Bernstein," Tavis Smiley Show 27 May 2014

"Episode 327," Matthew Filipowicz Show 27 May 2014

"Culture Shock: The Problem of Juvenile Justice," Los Angeles Review of Books 2 June 2014

"Author Nell Bernstein Talks About ‘Burning Down the House’ and Abolishing Juvenile Prisons," Juvenile Justice Information Exchange 2 June 2014

"Burning Down The House," San Francisco Chronicle 6 June 2014

"Author Nell Bernstein Exposes Failed Juvenile Prison System," The Peter B. Collins Shows 11 June 2014

"America Incarcerates Kids for WHAT?!" David Pakman Show 13 June 2014

"Close All Juvenile Prisons," Talk Nation Radio 24 June 2014

"Community Alternatives to ‘Toxic’ Youth Prisons," The Crime Report 25 June 2014

"The Case for Abolishing Juvenile Prisons: How Isolating Minors Who Need Connection Endangers Us All," Ann Arbor Independent 25 June 2014

"The Tragedy Of Jailing Kinds," The Crime Report 26 Jun 2014

"Study Argues Against Locking Up Teen Offenders," Orlando Sentinel 24 June 2014

"Burning Down the House: An Interview With Author Nell Bernstein" Journalism Center On Children & Families 1 July 2014

"Juvenile Incarceration," PRX 2 July 2014

"A Call To Junk Juvenile Jails" Philadelphia Inquirer 6 July 2014

"Nell Bernstein's 'Burning Down the House' To Save The Juvenile Justice System" Bay Area News Group 7 July 2014

"The Best Of Our Knowledge Episode #1242"  WAMC Pubic Radio 9 July 2014

"Episode 808: The Watchpower," This Is Hell 12 July 2014

"The Problems With Juvenile Prison," KALW FM 16 July 2014

"Juvenile Prison Today," WORT FM 21 July 2014

"Juvenile Prisons," On Point With Tom Ashbook WBUR FM 24 July 2014

"Weekend Reader: Burning Down The House," The National Memo 26 July 2014

"Taxpayers Pay About $88,000...," Truth Out 12 August 2014

"Think: The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration," KERA FM 12 August 2014

"The Case For Abolishing Juvenile Prison," The Awl 16 September 2014

"Tenn. Detention Facility Explores How To Control Rough Teens," NPR's Morning Edition 30 September 2014

"Will Your Child Grow Up To A Victim Or A Torturer?" The Nation 15 October 2014

"Remembering The Ungovernable Ella Fitzgerald's Time In a Youth Prison," Color Lines 12 November 2014

"There's No Justice In The American Justice System," JJIE 14 November 2014

"The Roof Is On Fire," Urban Faith 16 December 2014

"Congress May Prompt Juvenile Justice Reform In Utah," Cache Valley Daily News 18 December 2014

"Federal Juvenile Justice Reforms Would Encourage Changes In Michigan," Michigan Radio 23 December 2014

"Juvenile Prisons Do More Harm Than Good," East Bay Express 6 January 2015

"How Do We End Jails For Juveniles," Oakland Local 9 January 2015

"My Fellow Americans," The Marshall Project 20 January 2015

"Starving The Beast Of Juvenile Institutions By Reinvesting In Our Communities," Oakland Local 30 January 2015

"Just Cause," Santa Cruz Good Times 10 February 2015

"Imagine Freedom for Connecticut Kids" The CT Mirror 4 March 2015

"Current Juvenile Justice System 'Designed to Erode Humanity': Author," Juvenile Justice Information Exchange 16 March 2015

"Reforming Our Juvenile Justice System," WNPR 23 March 2015

"Are Adult Decisions Harming Kids In Juvenile Justice?" Huffington Post 15 April 2015

"Delinquent. Dropout. At-Risk. When Words Become Labels," NPR 28 April 2015

"Why Labels Create Misconceptions About Out-Of-School Youth," Education World 20 April 2015