A look at a basketball program for teenage girls that offers guidance and refuge from their rocky family lives in a town plagued by unemployment, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy. The program is part of the Carroll Academy, a school run by the Carroll County Juvenile Court in West Tennessee. John Branch reports the story in two parts:

“Hannah arrived when she was 12, after she admitted stealing prescription pills from her mother and bringing them to school under orders from girls who had threatened to beat her up. It was Monica, wanting to teach Hannah a lesson, who called the school.

“It was only this spring that Hannah acknowledged that it was a lie — a lie conceived by her father, Hannah said, so that he could take the pills and avoid the wrath of his wife. Hannah wants to graduate from Carroll Academy. She likes the attention and a predictable schedule. She likes playing on the basketball team. She has flitting dreams of becoming a doctor or a veterinarian.

“Hannah’s parents do not like that she goes to Carroll Academy. Getting her to the van stop in the nearest town is inconvenient, and picking her up after basketball games (when school vans do not run) can cost an hour of time and $20 in gas money, if the car is running at all. But if Hannah does not attend, her parents could end up in jail. The juvenile court views truancy as a parent problem, not a child one.”

Don’t miss the 17-minute documentary that goes along with this story about 14-year-old Hannah’s experience at Carroll Academy.