Vice season 6, episode 1 recap


In “Raised in the System,” Vice takes us along for an in-depth look at juvenile offenders in the United States. Here is a brief recap for Season 6, Episode 1.

As anticipated, the first episode of Vice Season 6 was an in-depth look into juvenile offenders and the nature of the world they inhabit. Actor Michael Kenneth Williams serves as narrator and guide as he profiles high school age young men both in and out of incarceration.

Early on, the dominant theme emerged that this really is a way of life for them. The system of run ins with the law is all they know. Even if they don’t do anything, growing up in the system still affects them. If a man has a family and they get convicted of a violent felony, that’s gonna impact how they live.

Many young offenders are teenagers and already have young children. Another young man said all their potential role models are gang members or people who’ve done time. A former juvenile offender explicitly notes that there are no doctors or lawyers in the community, all they see is people pulling guns on each other.

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Later in the episode, we see a judge conducting a court hearing. During it, the judge asks if the defendant’s mother is an offender herself, which she is. The young man reveals that he doesn’t want to go home because of conflicts with her. This highlights the other key point the episode shows: It is common knowledge that kids in general are typically rebellious and engage in risky behavior, but juvenile offenders lack the support system to deal with it properly.

The point of schools, work, role models, parents, friends, and other social support systems is to provide a healthy structure so that young people can grow and mature into well-functioning adults. Take this away or provide negative support, and odds are very good you have a juvenile offender in the making.

It is for this reason that a lot of places are seeking to put kids into a tough program that is more like a cross between detention and military school than an actual prison. The program seeks to provide education so they can learn from their mistakes. From other similar programs, it seems this approach yields significant results.

Most striking of all was when they analyzed different programs. One in particular seeks to help young kids talk about their experiences. Some talk about having family members not only incarcerated, but also getting arrested right in front of them. Even before a teenager is in the system on account of their own behavior, they are already technically being raised in the system on account of a parent or some other relative.

Since it is widely known that kids learn from the examples of adults around them, it is unavoidable that having a parent in the system would have a significant impact on their development. The only question is how big an impact. This is when “the system” stops being an abstract idea and becomes a concrete fact.

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Even some former juvenile offenders themselves are seeking to help at risk kids. There is no better authority on how to help at risk kids than former juvenile offenders because they know how it works. In this area, it really does seem that having one person being a support system can really change their life.

Vice airs Fridays at 7:30/6:30c on HBO.