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Watch the trailer for VICE on HBO's season 6 premiere, “Raised in the System”

"The Wire" actor Michael Kenneth Williams examines the juvenile justice system and what communities are doing to bring drastic drops in crime and incarceration, in the VICE Season 6 premiere.
Michael Kenneth Williams speaks with his nephew Dominic DuPont in a yard of the maximum security prison where Dominic is serving a 25 year to life sentence for a second degree murder conviction as a teenager (Credit: Courtesy of HBO)

VICE on HBO returns for its sixth season Friday, April 6, at 11 p.m. ET/PT with “Raised in the System,” an extended special season premiere featuring Emmy-nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams as he embarks on a personal journey to expose the root of the American mass incarceration crisis: the juvenile justice system.

“Raised in the System” offers a frank and unflinching look at people caught up in the system, exploring why the country’s mass incarceration problem cannot be fixed without first addressing the juvenile justice problem, and investigates community efforts that are resulting in drastic drops in crime and incarceration.


With more than 850,000 juvenile arrests a year and 48,000 kids sitting in lock-up daily, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of minors in the world. However, recent FBI statistics reveal that the highest arrest rates for violent crimes, including murder, robbery and car theft, come in late teenage years and then fall significantly.

Having grown up in Brooklyn’s Vanderveer projects, Williams has seen firsthand how family and close friends have been swept up in the criminal justice system at an early age. In “Raised in the System,” Williams meets with his nephew Dominic, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder at age 19, and his cousin Niven, who entered the prison system age 14, was released with restrictions preventing him from returning to his family, and ultimately fell back into crime.

In Baltimore, Williams reunites with Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, his former co-star on the HBO series “The Wire,” who describes how her life was transformed after being sent to a maximum security facility for adult women as a teenager.

From Brooklyn to Toledo, from Richmond to Baltimore, Williams meets young offenders stuck in the system, as well as the judges and community members trying to keep them out.

“Raised in the System” also examines solutions already being enacted across the country. In Newark, Howard University’s Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad works with children of incarcerated parents and helps them cope with their emotions by opening up lines of dialogue in the classroom.

In Toledo, Ohio, a juvenile court is using the latest in child psychology and data to help offenders correct their behavior.

In Richmond, Calif., one of the nation’s leading firearm-related homicide rates has dropped by 75 percent through a controversial program that pays a small stipend to the most at-risk offenders; the goal is to incentivize them to undergo counseling with former violent offenders, who help them reform their behavior.

VICE's “Raised in the System” airs on HBO Friday, April 6, at 11 p.m. ET/PT. It's the season 6 premiere of the Emmy-winning newsmagazine series.