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I Cried, You Didn't Listen: A Survivor's Expose of the California Youth Authority
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I Cried, You Didn't Listen: A Survivor's Expose of the California Youth Authority

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  100 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
California spends $400,000,000 annually to incarcerate children as young as 12 years old. Every year, the price of a four-year education at Stanford University buys each of these children horrifying physical, sexual, and psychological abuse behind the walls and fences of the California Youth Authority.

At the age of nine, a family tragedy split up Dwight Abbott’s family, an
Paperback, 153 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by AK Press (first published 1991)
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Jan 14, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: ruard_referred
Referenced frequently in the "Defense of Honor" section of Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Dow, this auto-biographical look into the hellacious California Youth Authority and the damage it has done for 60+ years to young people is not an easy read. Systematic brutality, sanctioned and condoned rape (by both inmates and councilors) and the overall worst example of what rehabilitation should be, Abbott tells a horrifying story that I had to read in small doses.

In the afterword, the author opines a
Danny Abbott
Nov 15, 2009 Danny Abbott rated it it was amazing
I may be biased, as I am Dwight Abbott's (Sonny's) brother, Skippy. However, I can assure that what my brother tells you of his treatment, as a child in these "correctional" institutions is FACT!
I was raised with Sonny, as well being there many of the times he gained freedom (mostly through escape.) Man's inhumanity to man; in this case, children; exists and is hidden behind Lies, shame, guilt and embarrassment. Those who claim this abuse does not exist have exchanged the Lie for the Truth. We
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Jun 22, 2008 Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book has moved me so deeply. It's about Abbott's experiences in the California Youth Authority from the ages of 9 to 17 years old. For reasons beyond his control, the state placed him in hell. In the CYA, he endured every conceivable type of abuse--from rape to violent assaults from guards and other incarcerated youth. There are very poignant chapters--such as the guard who helped him escape from a mental-abuse institution to the love he and another prisoner shared before it was cut tragica ...more
Jul 20, 2009 April rated it it was ok
I read this book since I am currently working with the juvenile justice system. The California Youth Authority (CYA) as the author describes it no longer exists. Due in large part to the type of abuses described by the author, CYA was supposed to be overhauled, & only minors who commit serious/violent felonies, such as rape, robbery, and murder, can be committed there.

I do not dispute in any way the tale told by the author or the abuses he suffered, but I find the novel a little self-serving
Maol Mhuire O'Duinnin
Mar 26, 2009 Maol Mhuire O'Duinnin rated it it was amazing

This book is unbelievable, but I believe it if you know what I'm saying. It's an incredible account of a boy's experience inside several "correctional facilities" that were designed for boys under 18 who were charged with criminal offenses or simply had nowhere else to go, specifically in California.

This boy, if he's still around, is now a relatively old man, having been born 8 years before my parents, which will make him 67 this October (he mentions his birthday several times in the book
Feb 16, 2009 Korinna rated it it was amazing
While this book is extremly difficult to read, I feel like it is really important for people to read it to understand the injustice in the California Youth Authority, now known as the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Abbott's story of a misplacement in the CYA leads to him developing survival mechanisms to the abuse he faces which are increasingly violent. This book is a good story for understanding how people become violent when violence is committed against them.
Jul 21, 2015 Joy rated it it was amazing
Some parts of this story I just couldn't read the in detail event of sexual abuse - so I skipped a few pages it made me physically ill to know ppl in charge could treat any child or anyone for that matter ,it saddens me to my core that this happened to Dwight and so many other children , horrific things done by the very ppl that's suppose to protect & care for them - so wrong on so many levels !! I pray that someday the rehabilitation center be shut down and ppl working there past or present ...more
Jamianne Passero
Jan 16, 2010 Jamianne Passero rated it it was amazing
I actually got this book for free from an order with AK press. Needless to say, it changed me. I have passed this book along to many people, and everyone who has read it has experienced the same feelings; shock, awe, compassion for a prisoner.
Jun 24, 2012 Karren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. I actually read it in one sitting.

To know that our young children have, and still do, go through these same expierences as Dwight Abbott is very chilling.

This story tells of a young boy, through no fault of his own, was thrown into the California Youth Authority system and the physical, emotional and sexual abuse he suffered, not only at the hands of his "peers" but by those entrusted to care for them.

It's easy to see why this man learned at a young age not to trus
Jun 05, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
The author of this book states that he wrote it while in solitary confinement. It's a trip into his childhood, where he came of age in California's Juvenile system. It takes place throughout his childhood years, beginning with an early stay at age 6 (along with a rape by a counselor). The rest is his teenage years spent trying to survive the brutal system of rape, violence, and sadistic counselors (also known as prison guards).

It's very chilling. I couldn't peel myself away from this book, even
Jan 10, 2015 Serenity rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
Years ago, when I was probably about 14, my brother-in-law gave me his copy of this book to read because he said it was his favorite one that he owned. I didn't know how heartbreaking and horrifying this book would be and I can't count how many times it made me cry. How could something so horrible and damaging be considered justice? Everyone would benefit from reading this book; these are real events that happened and continue to happen to others everyday
Nov 05, 2015 talkingtocactus rated it really liked it
This book was really shocking. The child custody system can be utterly brutal. I am currently reading the follow up, which is less good but really does show the results of this kind of abuse.
Sep 17, 2007 Bart rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think incarceration is a good idea
I also cried, however, from reading not writing or experiencing the events that occurred in this autobiography. The California Youth Authority (CYA) deals out heavy doses of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse to Dwight E. Abbott and fellow imprisioned (as I'm sure the CYA still does). Abbott and others incarcerated who are not at the bottom rungs at prison society prepetuate violence within their communities, often encouraged by guards as a means of social control. This is a quick read and not l ...more
Apr 19, 2012 Karren rated it it was amazing
After having read I Cried, You Didn’t Listen several years ago, recently I went in search of another copy to share with a friend. Much to my dismay I found that AK Press had taken it out of print. However, much to my delight I came across a recently revised edition by Abbott that is now available at This edition contains numerous photographs that were originally lacking, an introduction and afterward by the author, and concluding with comments by Abbott’s brother, Danny.
Douglas Adjei
Aug 13, 2015 Douglas Adjei rated it it was amazing
this is a must read for anyone especially those who want to have children or want to have any positive impact on any child's life....give the child a loving atmosphere and he/she will love you right back....emotional , personal and so vividly described that you will feel everything young Dwight went through...just make the time for is short but has a powerful impact on how children should be tended for
Thank you Dwight
Nov 20, 2009 Andi rated it liked it
Almost hard to believe because of the severity of the abuse the juveniles endure. Although there have been some changes in the juvenile justice system, the Division of Youth Corrections still has a long way to go in order to actually help "correct" youth instead of encouraging delinquent behavior. Quick read but difficult to get through due to the intense descriptions.
Alisa Lee
Jan 17, 2013 Alisa Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book, but really hard to read because of so much unbelievable sadness.
Aug 24, 2007 Mel rated it it was amazing
Horribly depressing and angering, but I couldn't put it down.
Dec 28, 2011 Angie rated it liked it
Chilling...daunting, dark, but I couldn't stop reading.
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Dwight "Sonny" Abbott was born within a secure Middle-Class family and was misplaced in the thick of California's abusive penal system.

At the age of nine, a family tragedy split up Dwight Abbott’s family, and forced him into the hands of the California Youth Authority. This is the chilling chronicle of his life behind bars—a story of brutality and survival; a dark journey showing how the systemati
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“Had I forgotten how to cry? Was that possible? In order to survive, I had long since buried my emotions.” 3 likes
“We fought to hide our fear, to maintain our positions as predators rather than victims. In reality, we were all victims.” 2 likes
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