Death Valley Plants
The Dysfunctional Logic of Power
How four boys were able to dismantle one small piece of the prison-industrial complex
Quick Summary:

A lad suffers undeserved ill-treatment at a boot camp facility for delinquent youth until his friends figure out a way to free him!

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Back Cover Blurb:

     Despite the melodramatic sounding title, this book tells the humor-laden story of four boys; three of whom must rescue the other from a boot camp, which he is sent to by his vindictive parents! The task of busting Nathan out of boot camp proves to be a lot harder than the boys expect. Not only is there the problem of extricating their friend from the privately run facility for delinquent youth, but even if they succeed, what do they do once Nathan is free?

     The bigger question, however, is why Nathan was sent to boot camp in the first place. He did a good thing in the eyes of many, yet his actions embarrass his parents. Nathan's parents disapprove of their son's behavior and since they have the power, they decide to take measures to reform him in order to put him back on the path of the righteous.

     Nathan, Sam, Dustin, and Harrison pick up from where they left off in The Fake News. They have become internet celebrities due to their past exploits, but Nathan, rather than enjoying this newly achieved status, is punished. Will the boys be able to save Nathan from the boot camp and his vindictive parents? Why aren't there laws to protect Nathan from the abuse perpetrated by his parents? Is it possible to overcome the power of those who benefit from the prison-industrial complex?

More Information:

     The Dysfunctional Logic of Power presents a humorous treatment of a serious topic. The problem of over-incarceration for the financial benefit of private corporations is illustrated in the form of a privately run camp for delinquent youth. The facility provides services for parents and law enforcement officials with kids who need "a little guidance," but for whom traditional juvenile detention is inappropriate for one reason or another. Those running the facility pitch traditional values and so the camp appeals to a large number of potential customers. But the important point here is that the real customers are one group of people who feel that something needs to be done about another group of people. Thus those who are forced to attend the camp are mere fodder used to justify the exchange of money for services provided by those who run the camp.

     Being an enterprising businessman, the proprietor of the camp, Pastor Pete, takes advantage of an opportunity by organizing a camp for delinquent youth. By promoting the camp his services come to the attention of law enforcement organizations and religious organizations, who in turn provide him with youth in "need" of his services either directly through mandates or through various types of referrals. The youth sent to the camp are subjected to a variety of activities that are supposed to build character, but which actually do nothing more beneficial than keep them busy while at camp. Whether or not the activities forced upon the youth are actually abusive is debatable, but it is unlikely that the activities are actually productive in terms of enriching the lives of the youth in any way.

     To provide perspective on this issue, Dustin's uncle in the story happens to be in the pornography business. Obviously this provides plenty of opportunity for good-natured joking between Dustin, his friends, and his uncle, but more importantly it provides a counter-cultural frame of reference on the problem of gratuitous incarceration and the financial incentive that motivates the prison industry. Dustin's uncle provides insights and a perspective that might evade most "normal" people. His point of view as a member of an industry scorned by a large portion of society and often targeted by tyrannical and unjustifiable laws, rules, and regulations helps him to see through the Prison-Industrial Complex and to help the boys in the story come to terms with the hypocrisy that is the foundation of this issue. Also in the background throughout the story is a serious journalist who helps to further contextualize many of the issues illustrated and discussed in the story.

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