David L. Marcus, the author of What It Takes to Pull Me Through: Why Teenagers Get in Trouble -- and How Four of Them Got Out, is a former foreign correspondent and education reporter for The Dallas Morning News, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald and U.S. News & World Report.
With the temperature creeping above 97 degrees in Austin, Texas, Melissa Barlow hurtles along Interstate 35 in a Toyota Corolla, the air conditioner blasting. It's a Thursday in June, and she has a tight schedule. Barlow supervises caseworkers in an innovative program that helps youthful offenders stay at home -- instead of prison -- while attending school, undergoing drug treatment, getting career training, and ﬁnding jobs. All these kids are referred, either by courts or by probation officers, as an alternative to incarceration.