In Australia the ABC produces some pretty good documentaries about our prison/justice system, which seems to be following the US method of catching young people for smaller offences and feeding them into the prison system if they don’t have parents with the means to keep them out of it.
On a really dark note, here’s the address of an article about how the Chinese state basically designates entire populations as criminal, and then uses and abuses them. It’s extreme. Don’t read it if you’re feeling at all delicate. The Chinese government doesn’t admit to going as far as the article says it does, but it does admit to harvesting the organs of executed political prisoners and selling them to foreigners and wealthy Chinese. http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/xinjiang-procedure_610145.html
How can we help change this? All I can think of at the moment, is to complain loudly at every opportunity about the long-term cost to taxpayers of taking badly-behaved youngsters*, depriving them of normal wage-earning, bill-paying, family-raising life skills and training them to be criminals. That should sway even the people who hold that all prisoners deserve everything they get.
*”badly behaved” is pretty broad term. http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/11/school_prison_pipeline_meridian.html