Destructive Justice - The Book
Destructive Justice - The Book Destructive Justice - The Story

A Lost Boy, A Broken System And The Small Light Of Hope

Nothing about Nathan Frank's early childhood hints at the devastating future that lay ahead for him. The popular second born son of a middle class family in Southern California, Nathan is a generous, intelligent, inventive and charismatic kid whose bold love for life seems to promise an extraordinary future.

With the advent of adolescence, however, Nathan's world begins to unravel. Trips into normal adolescent defiance and confusion from which most of us return relatively unscathed do not stop for Nathan at the expected terminals. Instead, his ride relentlessly gathers speed until his adolescence becomes a runaway train of drug abuse, delinquency and ultimately membership in a criminal street gang.

The institutions that should be sources of support and strength, including his family, friends, schools, sports, counselors and others seem only stoke the coals for his headlong rush into self-destruction. As he drives ever deeper into an abyss, his family futilely chases him, trying to pull him back before it is too late. In spite of all efforts, Nathan runs off the rails at full throttle, ultimately coming to a hard stop when he finds himself staring at the business end of Officer Trejo's sidearm.

At seventeen years old, Nathan Frank is arrested for his participation in a botched robbery. Amazingly, even though no one is harmed during the crime, he is tried as an adult and sentenced to 32 years, plus two consecutive life sentences.

But that is not the end, nor is it the entirety of Nathan Frank's story. How does a juvenile who does not hurt anyone end up being sentenced to multiple life terms in prison? The answer lies in the inhumane spirit that is pervasive throughout our justice system. With a near single focus on punishment and condemnation, our justice system incarcerates more people per capita than any country in history, by a long shot.

About the Book

Read An Excerpt From The Book

By all accounts, Nathan Frank starts out as a terrific kid with the brightest of futures ahead of him. With the advent of adolescence, however, Nathan's world and his relationships begin to unravel. Eventually, he becomes his own generator of conflict as he steadily enters a world of drugs, defiance and ultimately a criminal street gang. Finally, he runs off the rails at full throttle, coming to a hard stop at seventeen years old when he is arrested for his participation in a botched robbery. What follows that arrest is a tale of survival, self-realization and redemption.

Destructive Justice is a single boy's story, but it is one that millions share, millions who went wrong when they were kids and were swept into a disproportionately destructive system that ignored the obvious fact of their youth so that they could be tried and punished as if they were adult career criminals beyond all hope for rehabilitation. Unless good people rally together, far more kids will suffer the same fate unnecessarily and perhaps never be given the chance to grow out of their worst behavior. Destructive Justice seeks to shine a bright light on that destructive practice within our justice system so that the necessary rehabilitation of our system can occur and take hold.

We changed many names, dates and places in Destructive Justice for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the privacy and safety of those who have become part of our story. The changes we have made, however, should not lead people to treat the book and its message as a work of fiction. There is nothing fictional about Destructive Justice.


The author's story is a powerful one. Society tends to blame parents when children are troubled. Believing that parent did something wrong is easier than admitting these things could happen to any of us, to any of our children. By sharing their story, the author and his son are shining a bright light on our broken (in)justice system.

Darcia Helle

This book gives you the inside story of what Nathan Frank and his family have gone through and at the same time educates you on the laws that brought this story about. You will not want to put it down! When I read about how these kids are sentenced with no parole.

John Stone

About The Author

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    Nicholas Frank

  • Nicholas Frank's life and his family's were turned upside down when his second born son, Nathan, ran off the rails as an adolescent.

    Their ordinary world became a breakneck series of extraordinary events and consequences that forced Nicholas to reconsider every principle upon which he had built his world view. Many of those principles did not survive the challenges brought by the combination of his son's descent, his own confused, desperate reactions and the unexpectedly heartless response of society's institutions.

    Fortunately, the most important principles have survived:

    * Kids are not adults, and should not be tried and punished as if they are.

    * People can redeem themselves, especially kids. Any morally defensible system of justice must establish Rehabilitation and Redemption as guiding principles

    * Blood is thicker than water, but Love is thicker than blood.

    * Love is what makes a real family, and it is the only thing that keeps our humanity intact when we are faced with the worst.

    * A father must never give up on his kids nor allow them to give up on themselves while Hope is alive.

    These principles have led to the writing of Destructive Justice and the existence of this website that seeks to rally all good people to demand changes in our system for dealing with errant kids.

    Nicholas and his beautiful wife live in Southern California, where they have not given up Hope for Nathan's release from prison now that he has found his way back from the darkness that enveloped him. Nor have they given up Hope that our justice system will find its way back from its own darkness.

Get Involved

We include this list of websites that provide information about prison life, rehabilitation and the on-going struggle to elevate the importance of Rehabilitation and Redemption in our Justice and Corrections systems. You will find posts on all sides of the issues.

Some you will agree with, others you will not. That's what we have found. All of the information, testimonials and stories offer glimpses into a world that most of us never see. Get informed and get involved.

Juvenile Justice Blog

The purpose of Juvenile Justice Blog is to provide a central source for the latest news, information, scholarship, and commentary on issues related to juvenile justice in the United States.

It is intended for lawyers, academics, advocates, students, and all others interested in juvenile court practice, the fair sentencing of youth, and the criminalization of poverty, among other related topics.

Fair Sentencing for Youth

Fair Sentencing for Youth is a growing, collaborative project powered by many groups and individuals. We believe youth deserve the chance to prove themselves.

Sign up for tweets and get occasional text messages on these important issues. You donít need a ''smart phone'' just send a test to the number 40404, and the text: follow fair sentencing Itís free, although your regular text charges will apply.

Anti-Recidivism Coalition

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition's mission is to reduce incarceration, improve the outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals, and to build healthier communities.

Our Mission: ARC changes lives and creates safe, healthy communities by providing a support and advocacy network for, and comprised of formerly incarcerated young men and women. Together we are a bridge to transformation, purpose, and redemption.

California Prison Focus

California Prison Focus provides several different services, including advocacy, investigations into control units in the CA prison system, visits and limited family support.

California Prison Focus produces a quarterly newsletter ''Prison Focus'' and has a weekly radio show available in the Bay area (KPOO, 89.5 FM) on Thursdays, 11am to Noon.

Youth Law Center

The Youth Law Center is a public interest law firm that works to protect children in the nation's foster care and justice systems from abuse and neglect, and to ensure that they receive the necessary support and services to become healthy and productive adults.

Prison Policy Initiative

The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society.

Juvenile justice and the prison system's effect on kids

Become Informed

We include this list of websites that provide information about prison life, rehabilitation and the on-going struggle to elevate the importance of Rehabilitation and Redemption in our Justice and Corrections systems. You will find posts on all sides of the issues.

Some you will agree with, others you will not. That's what we have found. All of the information, testimonials and stories offer glimpses into a world that most of us never see. Get informed and get involved.

Quiet Fury Books Blog

The Quiet Fury Books Blog. My name is Darcia Helle and I write because the characters trespassing through my mind leave me no alternative. America's correctional system houses 2.2 million people, which would make it the fourth largest city in the nation.

All Things Crime Blog

The All Things Crime Blog covers crime and punishment. The field is a rich landscape of endless possibility and in All Things Crime we will wrestle with this field. Fellow crime aficionados, we invite your thoughts and ideas and with your permission, we look forward to posting your contributions in the form of short articles and reflections on this important and fascinating topic.

Between the Bars

The Between the Bars is a weblog platform for people in prison, through which the 1% of Americans who are in prison can tell their stories to the outside world. Leave a comment and they will pass it on.

Live From Lockdown

The Live From Lockdown has now grown beyond the Federal System to include select State inmates. Participation is by referral only. Inmates do not receive compensation for their contributions.

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