The 2004 case of a teenager who died while serving time in a juvenile detention boot camp is reopened after new evidence suggests his death wasn't an accident. Scotty had intended to serve as a character witness at the boy's hearing but arrived too late, something he always regretted. Stillman is ordered by his new boss, Deputy Commissioner Pat Doherty, to drop the case and must pay a price when he doesn't. Meanwhile Lilly enlists help from her old flame Eddie Saccardo in her feud with Moe Kitchener.
In May 2004, a lawyer defends her juvenile client, Alex Caceres. Alex says that he took his foster father’s car to get away from him because he was abusive. The lawyer says that they have a detective, Valens, who can testify for Alex, but he is late. The judge sentences Alex Caceres to 18 months in a juvenile hall called Havenhearst. Later, Alex is found dead which is ruled as an accident.
In the present day, Michael, a juvenile criminal, asks Valens and Rush if he can exchange information about Alex for a guarantee that he doesn’t have to go to Havenhearst. He says that he found Alex’s body and that his death was not an accident. Michael says that Alex used to talk about Valens a lot before he died. Valens tells Stillman that Alex’s death seems suspicious. He says that his autopsy report shows that he was bruised. He tells him that Alex was supposed to help with a case. He remembers that he informed Alex of his family’s death due to a drive by. Stillman tells him to keep his investigation low key.
Valens and Rush go to Havenhearst to meet with the director, Evan. He tells the detectives that Alex slipped and fell after he tried to open his window. He admits that they moved his body to the infirmary to try to save him. Rush asks for staff records. A councilor named Letitia tells the detectives that they are overpopulated and understaffed. She says that it doesn’t take much to make kids angry. Letitia remembers telling the new juveniles that she will take them down if they act up. She remembers when a boy, Michael, took her keys and locked her out of the room. Afterwards, another juvenile, Ray-Ray took Michael’s bag and dumped out its content. Alex tried to defend Michael and got into a fight with Ray-Ray, just before it was broken up by Evan. They bring Ray-Ray to the station. Miller and Jeffries ask him about Alex. He tells the detectives that he was friends with Alex. He remembers that Alex told him how he opened his window using a screwdriver. He says that the shop teacher, Jimmy, caught Alex with the screwdriver, got angry and took it back. Rush calls her dad and cancels her plans to have dinner. Rush tells Valens that Jimmy has a record of assault. They wonder how Jimmy got hired at Havenhearst.
Deputy Commissioner Patrick Doherty meets with Stillman and tells him to shut down the Alex Caceras case. Stillman tells Valens that he can have any resources he wants to close his case. Jeffries and Miller bring Jimmy to the station. Jimmy says that he wanted to teach troubled kids how to work with wood in order to give them a sense of pride. He says that Alex was a good kid. He believes that Alex’s death was not an accident. He says that he was working at a hardware store when Alex died. He remembers when he tried to tell Alex to shape up. He noticed that Alex had blood on his shirt. Jimmy tells the detectives that Alex said he was being bullied. He says that he called Alex’s lawyer to try to get help. They bring Alex’s lawyer, Marcy, to the station and tell her that they know she contacted Alex while he was in Havenhearst. She remembers when she met with Alex and Evan. Evan told Alex that they have to have a conference if the other boys are bothering him. Alex said that he is not a snitch. He told Marcy that a smaller kid named Michael is being beat up. Marcy promised to help him out. Marcy tells the detectives that she contacted Michael’s lawyer and asked him to get Michael transferred out. Rush tells Valens that Michael’s transfer request was denied. She says that he was transferred out a few days after Alex died.
Valens blames himself for Alex’s death. He tries to get a hold of Michael, but he learns that he is being processed. Valens goes to Havenhearst and takes custody of Michael. Rush receives a picture of herself from a caller. Rush calls the police and asks to track a number. She goes to the apartment and finds Eddie, her former boyfriend who went undercover. After making love, Rush tells Eddie that she figures that he misses her. Eddie says that he wanted to see Rush ever since he heard that Kitchener, the man who tried to drive Rush off the road, walked out on bail. Valens takes Michael out for breakfast. He asks him how he got transferred out of Havenhearst. Michael says that Alex tried to save him. He says that he was taken out of his room and was beaten by juveniles under the direction of one the councilors, Letitia. Alex arrived and took the blame for something that Michael did.
Doherty barges into Stillman’s office and says that he found out that Valens took a kid out of juvenile hall. Stillman says that it seems like that he is trying to cover up something. Doherty tells Stillman to pick a detective to fill an open position or he will. Rush meets with Letitia and tells her that she knows she got turned down by the police because she was psychologically unfit. Letitia admits that Alex wouldn’t back down at Havenhearst. She says that Alex pushed him when she tried to restrain him. Jimmy arrived, choked Alex and dragged him to his room where she never saw him since. Letitia says that Jimmy did them a favor. Jeffries and Miller meet with Jimmy and tell him that they are disappointed. Jimmy tells the detectives that he tried to set Alex straight by suggesting that he use his head to get out of situations. He told Alex that he should use finesse instead of brute force. Alex showed Jimmy a pen with the word jurisprudence on it. He said that it seems like no one gets out of the facility. Alex asked him to take the pen to Valens. Jimmy brought Alex to the only working phone, which was in Evan’s office, then left him. Rush learns that Alex called the judge that sentenced him to Havenhearst, Harry Alvarez.
Rush informs Valens that Alvarez and Doherty are golf buddies. Rush learns that Alvarez is linked to a ski resort called Jurisprudence. Later, Valens tells Alvarez that he knows that his sister, who owns the Havenhearst center and Jurisprudence, gets money from the state for every child that is there. Valens figures that no matter what he would have done during Alex’s sentencing, Alex was going to be sent to Havenhearst. Valens asks Alvarez to tell him who killed Alex. Alvarez remembers when Alex called him. He told Alvarez that he found out about his scam to get more money for his sister. Alvarez says that he heard someone grab Alex and beat him. Rush and Valens meet with Evan. They tell him that they found a picture of him at the Jurisprudence ski resort. Evan says that he isn’t interested in money. Valens informs him that they are going to search his office to look for blood. Evan says that he was going to reason with Alex. He says that Alex begged Evan to release Michael from Havenhearst. Alex said that he wanted to report him and picked up the phone to call a reporter. Evan confesses that he punched, handcuffed and stuffed a rag in Alex’s mouth so he would be quiet. Later, Alex died. The detectives arrest Evan.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- Tracie Thoms as Kat Miller
- Jerry Hernandez as Alex Caceres
- Steven Culp as Evan Price
- James Earl III as Ray-Ray
- Christopher H. Fisher as Michael Rogers (2009)
- Miguel Perez as Judge Harold Alvarez
- Adina Porter as Laticia Myers
- Keith Szarabajka as Deputy Commissioner Patrick Doherty
- Becky Wahlstrom as Marci Rich
- Cress Williams as Jimmy Clarke
- Jeremy Ratchford does not appear in this episode.
- Although he does not appear in this episode, Moe Kitchener's first name is revealed to be short for Maurice.
- The revelation of a judge taking bribes to impose unusually harsh sentences on young offenders at a privately-run youth detention facility was inspired by the 2008 "Kids for cash" scandal, in which two Pennsylvania judges were indicted over kickbacks to send young defendents to such facilities.
- Scotty Valens was already in Homicide back in 2004, and not in Narcotics as the episode had showed. Before 2003, he was in Narcotics over at West.
- This is the least watched episode, it averaged 7 million viewers.
- The show started 51 minutes late.
- Moby "In This World"
- Paul Wall "Luv N My Life"
- Talib Kweli "Get By"
- The Roots "Don't Say Nuthin'"
- Solomon Burke "None of Us Are Free"