Before Michael K. Williams was celebrated for his gritty acting roles on shows like The Wire and The Night Of, he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn's Vanderveer projects. It was a community, like so many others across America, that routinely saw young people—and especially those of color—get swept up into the dark recesses of the juvenile justice system.
Now, with the US arresting an estimated 850,000 juveniles a year—and holding some 48,000 kids in confinement at any given time—and a president embracing "law and order," Williams decided to take a personal look at the mass incarceration epidemic. On the sixth season premiere of VICE on HBO, Williams talks to young people—including friends and family members—from Baltimore, Richmond, Toledo, and Brooklyn to understand why it seems like an entire generation of young Americans is growing up behind bars.
VICE's "Raised in the System" airs on HBO Friday, April 6, and also takes a look at the community members and organizations working on solutions to keep young kids out of the prison pipeline. Check out the episode's companion site to find out how organizations like the Luis Munoz Marin School for Social Justice, Advance Peace, the National Juvenile Justice Network, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation are helping juveniles and their families in and out of America's criminal justice system.
"Raised in the System" airs Friday at 7:30 and 11 PM EST.