The KCBS program "Juvenile Justice: Cradle and All," airing at 8 tonight on Channel 2, is exactly the kind of commitment that local stations should be demonstrating.
In this age of minidocs and maxischlocks, a prime-time hour documentary focusing on local problems is almost unheard of. And this one (produced and directed by Patrick Dunavan, written by executive producer Jim Kennedy and reported by Jess Marlow) is affecting and interesting to a point, presenting a good survey of the serious problems dragging down our juvenile justice system.
Police and other field professionals share their perspectives on the screen, and we hear the voices of juvenile offenders without seeing their faces. "I'm not bad," one says. "I just got a lot of rage in me." Another demonstrates female pride by recalling how she beat up a 14-year-old boy and took his money. "So girls can do anything boys can do."
From Juvenile Hall to juvenile detention camps ("the end of the line," Marlow says), we hear about a system that is losing the battle to recidivism, a system that is underfinanced, overcrowded and overmatched. "I used to have people in my caseload," says a weary probation officer. "I now have numbers and files."