Advance Praise for
Boy With A Knife
A Story of Murder, Remorse, and A Prisoner’s Fight for Justice
“Books like Jean Trounstine’s Boy With A Knife are urgently needed. Through the gripping story of Karter Reed, Trounstine argues passionately that locking up youth in adult prisons is cruel but sadly not unusual punishment. Reed stands for all the kids whose lives have been stunted, if not broken, by the failed policies of “tough on crime,” and he is one of the survivors. Through more than 100 letters, he taught her—and her book teaches us— to demand a more just criminal justice system.”
Nell Bernstein, Author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison and All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated.
“Boy With A Knife does for Karter Kane Reed what the media, policy makers, even advocates have failed to for decades — namely, tell the stories of those who have been imprisoned, how they got there, what happened to them, and even why. We talk about the victims, as we should; politicians name bills after them. And we tell exoneration stories, or stories of guilty offenders so long as they were convicted of non-violent drug crimes. But the perpetrators of violent crimes—young men who are victims in their own right—are too often nameless and faceless, which is why it is easy to demonize them. Jean Trounstine tells Karter’s story with warmth, with complexity, with nuance. She weaves in his background, trial, conviction, imprisonment in the context of larger contemporary public and scholarly debates about punishment and especially, adolescents. She frames a critical contemporary debate with a very, very human face. We see through Karter the mistakes that we have made and critically, how much more needs to be done. This is essential reading for anyone who cares about justice.”
Nancy Gertner is a former U.S. federal judge, named one of “The Most Influential Lawyers of the Past 25 Years” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
“With skillful storytelling and rigorous research, Jean Trounstine shows us in Boy With A Knife why young people engage in crime and violence, how we can create rehabilitation and redemption for those caught up in the system. This book shows why youth justice should move to the top of our national priorities if we want safe and equitable communities for all Americans.”
Piper Kerman, author of the New York Times bestselling Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison
“Boy with a Knife is a masterful narrative rooted in the tragedy of a life lost and another launched into a complex journey of transformation. Boy with a Knife is a must read—a compelling story and a deep reflection for teachers and students, advocates and policy-makers, parents and youth on the meaning of justice.”
Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD.,William James College, National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, and the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior of Massachusetts General (MGH)
“In this vivid account of how inhumane it is to act as if youths are adults when it comes to crime (although hardly in anything else), Jean Trounstine has made the case: These laws and practices must end. With meticulous research, Trounstine mirrors what I’ve seen in U.S. prisons for over 35 years as a speaker and workshop facilitator, when I also witnessed the increasing number of troubled youth being thrown away, abused, and in too many cases, prepared as higher-end criminals, all at taxpayers’ expense. Read this and take action. Anybody can change. Anybody can be saved. It’s time our laws and justice systems aligned to this moral and biological fact.”
Luis J. Rodriguez, author of Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and Hearts & Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times.
“This is Karter Reed’s story. Reading it, you walk away with how a boy with a knife becomes a man whose future and past are hinged on the life that he has taken. The system is horrific, but the system is just the backdrop. Because what Jean Trounstine reveals in Boy With A Knife is partly what happens between the moment that two lives end and, much later, when one begins again. There are moments that I recognized. The one that stood out most was Karter’s regret. If there is a shadow that this book casts over readers, it is Karter’s regret. And in the end, that is the lesson worth remembering.”
Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Bastards of the Reagan Era and a member of the Yale Law School class of 2016.
“Gripping and important, Trounstine’s real-life account about a boy thrust into an adult prison unfolds in heart-shattering drama. Written with deep compassion and grace, Trounstine brilliantly proves that people can–and do change–and so, too, can the system. A must-read for anyone who cares about justice and forgiveness–and that should be all of us.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Boy With A Knife is a devastatingly detailed indictment of a criminal justice system that routinely sends youth to adult jails and prisons, yet it’s a story infused with much needed hope. A must read for anyone interested in criminal justice reform.”
TJ Parsell, Author of Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison
“Through Boy With a Knife Jean Trounstine has opened a window into the disaster of American juvenile justice. The story of Karter Kane Reed serves not only as a cautionary tale of what can happen to kids who commit serious crimes, but of how American juvenile justice policies actually hamper rehabilitation and the correction of flawed character. Hands down this book is certain to be a top criminal justice read for 2016. Also certain is that Trounstine will leave her readers with deeply personal questions about how best to deal with juvenile justice.”
Award-winning incarcerated writer and author of College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons.
“Jean Trounstine has delivered a searing wake-up call about the need to reform and redeem our juvenile justice system. Sentencing children as adults is neither productive nor morally sound, and the tale of Karter Kane Reed exemplifies that truth.”
Shon Hopwood, author of Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption