the black child-savers_ward


Geoff Ward (2012). The Black Child Savers: Racial Democracy and Juvenile Justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Recipient of the American Society of Criminology’s Michael J. Hindelang Book Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Research in Criminology (2013).
  • Recipient of the History of Education Society’s Outstanding Book Award (2013).

The Black Child Savers examines the rise, fall, and lasting repercussions of Jim Crow juvenile justice. Using an array of primary and secondary sources, the study traces the historical origins and social organization of this system of separate and unequal “citizen-building” initiative, as juvenile justice was long described, examining its relation to the embattled racial politics of American democracy itself.

Central to this account are generations of “black child-savers” who, beginning in the 1890s, mobilized to challenge this threat to the linked fates of black youth and communities, with only partial success. Nearly a century of struggle to achieve a more racially democratic model of juvenile social control eventually forced Jim Crow juvenile justice to give way to formal integration, yet inequality was soon reorganized, and black youth and communities continue to face limited access to liberal rehabilitative ideals and resources today.

At once an inspiring story about shifting boundaries of race, citizenship, and democracy in America and a critical look at the endurance of structural violence and inequality, The Black Child Savers offers a stirring account of the lasting significance of the “immortal child” to the pursuit of social justice.


Ward, G. (2016). “Microclimates of Racial Meaning: Historical Racial Violence and Environmental Impacts,”Wisconsin Law Review, 3, 2016.

Geoff Ward and Peter Hanink (2016). “Deliberating Racial Justice: Towards Racially Democratic Crime Control.” in Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics, J. Jackson and J. Jacobs (eds.). New York: Routledge.

Owens, Peter, David Cunningham, and Geoff Ward (2015). “Threat, Competition, and Mobilizing Structures: Motivational and Organizational Contingencies of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan” Social Problems.

Ward, Geoff and David Cunningham, eds. (2015). “Legacies of Racial Conflict and Violence.”
Special issue of Race & Justice, 5 (2).

Petersen, Nick and Geoff Ward (2015). “The Transmission of Historical Racial Violence: Lynching, Civil Rights-Era Terror, and Contemporary Interracial Homicide.” Race & Justice, 5 (2), 114-143.

Ward, Geoff (2015). “The Slow Violence of State Organized Race Crime.” Theoretical Criminology, 19 (3), 299-314.

Aaron Kupchik and Geoff Ward (2013). “Race, Poverty and Exclusionary School Security: An Empirical Analysis of U.S. Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice. 

Geoff Ward (2012). “Racialized Crime Control and Societal Exclusion: A Tremendous Problem for Generations”  Dubois Review: Social Science Research on Racevol. 9, n. 1.

Amy Farrell and Geoff Ward (2011). “Examining District Variation in Sentencing in the Post-Booker Period.” Federal Sentencing Reporter vol. 23, n. 5.

Geoff Ward, Aaron Kupchik, Laurin Parker, and Brian Starks (2011). “Racial Politics of Juvenile Justice Policy Support:Juvenile Court Worker Orientations Towards Disproportionate Minority Confinement.” Race and Justice vol. 1, n. 2.

Amy Farrell, Geoff Ward, and Danielle Rousseau (2010). “Intersections of Gender andRace in Federal Sentencing: Examining Court Contexts and the Effects of Representative CourtAuthorities.” Journal of Gender, Race & Justice vol. 14, n. 1.

Geoff Ward and Aaron Kupchik (2010). “What Drives Juvenile Probation Officers?Relating Organizational Contexts, Status Characteristics, and Personal Convictions toTreatment and Punishment Orientations.” Crime and Delinquency vol. 56, n. 1.

Geoff Ward, Amy Farrell, and Danielle Rousseau (2009). “Does Racial Balance in WorkforceRepresentation  Yield Equal Justice? Race Relations of Sentencing in Federal CourtOrganizations.” Law & Society Review vol. 43, n. 4.

Geoff Ward and Aaron Kupchik (2009). “Accountable to What? Professional OrientationsTowards Accountability-Based Juvenile Justice.” Punishment & Societyvol. 11, n. 1.

Amy Farrell, Geoff Ward and Danielle Rousseau (2009). “Race Effects of Representation among Federal Court Workers: Does Black Workforce Representation Reduce Sentencing Disparities?” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science vol. 623.

Geoff Ward (2006). “Race and the Justice Workforce: A System Perspective.” In R. Peterson, L. Krivo, and J. Hagan (eds.) The Many Colors of Crime: Inequalities of Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Geoff Ward (2004). “Applying Black Studies: Toward Strategic Engagement with Practice-Oriented Disciplines.” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society vol. 6, n. 3-4.

Geoff Ward (2004). “Punishing for a Living.” Social Justice vol. 31, n. 1-2.