13 episodes

All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Snap Judgment, Nancy and many others.
© WNYC Studios

Caught WNYC Studios

    • True Crime
    • 4.8 • 716 Ratings

All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Snap Judgment, Nancy and many others.
© WNYC Studios

    Episode 1: 'I Just Want You to Come Home'

    Episode 1: 'I Just Want You to Come Home'

    Z had his first encounters with law enforcement when he was just 12 years old. Now, at 16, he’s sitting in detention on an armed robbery charge—his young life has been defined by cops and courts. Dwayne Betts is a poet and juvenile justice lawyer who, in his own youth, was deemed a “super-predator,” and spent nine years incarcerated. Both Z and Dwayne were guilty of the crimes for which they were charged; their stories are not whodunnits. But together, they introduce the central questions of this podcast: What happens once we decide a child is a criminal? What does society owe those children, beyond punishment? And what are the human consequences of the expansion and hardening of criminal justice policies that began in the 1990s – consequences disproportionately experienced by black and brown youth. 

    Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 28 min
    Episode 2: 'They Look at Me Like a Menace'

    Episode 2: 'They Look at Me Like a Menace'

    In our first episode, we met Z. He's locked up because he and a group of friends robbed someone with a gun. But now that he's inside, his biggest problem is his temper. Z is a kid who's had mental health challenges since he was small, and when he's gotten the support he needs, he has thrived. Inside lock up, that support is complicated. It comes with a label. And like many kids in the system, he gets help mostly when he "turns up," which is just the kind of behavior that threatens his chance to go home. 

    Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 35 min
    Episode 3: 'He Really Wants to Shoot Someone'

    Episode 3: 'He Really Wants to Shoot Someone'

    At age 15, Z received his sentence in adult court. The reason why dates back 40 years, to a child named Willie Bosket. His crimes changed everything for kids and criminal justice.

    In 1978, Bosket murdered two people on the New York City subway. Despite the severity of his crime, he received a sentence of just 5 years, and the tabloids went wild. The result: a new state law that has pushed thousands of kids into the adult system, an approach that’s been adopted by states across the country. We look back at Willie Bosket: his childhood, his extreme and atypical violence, and the specific challenges he presented to the juvenile justice system, even before he became a murderer.

    Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 35 min
    Episode 4: 'Oh My God, What Have I Done?'

    Episode 4: 'Oh My God, What Have I Done?'

    Honor has struggled for years with leukemia, homelessness and suicide attempts. On the anniversary of his leukemia diagnosis, he reached a breaking point: A terrifying eruption that he still refers to as only "the incident." Like many young people who struggle with mental illness, "the incident" pushed Honor into the criminal justice system. His story -- and his rare shot at a second chance -- challenges our understanding of justice for young people who commit violent crimes. Listen as and he and his family go through weeks of therapy in an effort to keep Honor out of prison.

    Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 36 min
    Episode 5: 'The Teenage Brain Is Like a Sports Car'

    Episode 5: 'The Teenage Brain Is Like a Sports Car'

    Stephen is one of thousands of so-called "juvenile lifers" who have an unexpected shot at freedom today. Up until 2005, most juveniles could be sentenced just as harshly as adults: that meant life without parole, even the death penalty. Then a landmark Supreme Court decision made executing juvenile offenders illegal, and sentencing guidelines began to change. The court was swayed after hearing about teenage brain development. 

    Caught is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 33 min
    Episode 6: 'Please Lock Up My Kid'

    Episode 6: 'Please Lock Up My Kid'

    Status offenses are acts only considered crimes if committed by young people – things like running away, not going to school, or missing curfew. They are designed to keep at risk youth safe, but in practice, they can also become a pipeline into the juvenile justice system for kids who might otherwise not end up there. One of those kids is Maria, a young woman living in Walla Walla, Washington, who refuses to attend school. Washington state intensified its status offense laws after a runaway girl was found dead. It now leads the nation in jailing kids for status offenses.

    Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
716 Ratings

716 Ratings

FutureSW ,

Great podcast

Great podcast that made me emotional. Very insightful and educational. Thank you

Awesome games 101 ,

good podcast.

I had to listen to this podcast for class and I enjoyed it.

LittleBunny4u ,

Well done!

Well done. Intriguing; and while I was alarmed at a lot of the statistics, I know I shouldn’t be. Eye opening!!

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