Mark Dostert - UP IN HERE

Friday, September 5, 2014 - 7:00pm
2421 Bissonnet St
77005-1451 Houston
Up in Here: Jailing Kids on Chicago's Other Side By Mark Dostert Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609382704
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: University Of Iowa Press - September 1st, 2014

Raised in a comfortable Dallas suburb, Mark Dostert crossed cultural and
socioeconomic boundaries as a college student by volunteering as a
counselor at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center,
Chicago's infamous 500-cell juvenile jail, known locally as the Audy
Home. Inmates there had been indicted on first-degree murder, rape, and
carjacking charges, yet some enthusiastically met with him for weekly
Bible-based lessons and discussions. Dostert formed friendly
relationships with his students and envisioned becoming an even closer
mentor to the legally troubled boys when he became an employee there
after graduating from college.

The juveniles' attitudes toward
Dostert change, however, once he begins working as a "Children's
Attendant" at the Audy Home, clocking in for eight hours every day to
enforce rules and maintain order on the cellblocks. His colorblind,
altruistic volunteer world fractures into a full-time, emotionally
charged reality of white and black and brown. When the boys change, he
must change too. Despite wanting to help them feel human in such a
dehumanizing environment, Dostert realizes he needs to make sure his
kindness is not perceived as weakness. Dostert learns to march the
juveniles through the facility to school, recreation activities, and
chapel. He must strip-search them, interrupt their brawls, root through
their cells for drugs and handcrafted weapons, and monitor group showers
to thwart sexual extortion and the inscription of gang symbols in soap
on walls and mirrors. Week after week and month after month, the job
exposes hidden views not only of the juveniles and the "system"
incarcerating them, but of Children's Attendant Dostert himself.

From one man's struggle to reconcile his humanitarian intentions with
his actual job responsibilities in what, to him, is a strange new world,
emerges a sincere effort to confront the realities of America's
persisting racial tensions and institutionalized poverty. Dostert's
story is an honest and unflinching journey from thinking he has many of
the answers for how to change this world to discovering how little he
really knows about the world he is trying to change.