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A World Apart
“Life in a women’s prison is full of surprises,” writes Cristina Rathbone in her landmark account of life at MCI-Framingham. And so it is. After two intense court battles with prison officials, Rathbone gained unprecedented access to the otherwise invisible women of the oldest running women’s prison in America. The picture that emerges is both astounding and enraging. Women reveal the agonies of separation from family, and the prevalence of depression, and of sexual predation, and institutional malaise behind bars. But they also share their more personal hopes and concerns. There is horror in prison for sure, but Rathbone insists there is also humor and romance and downright bloody-mindedness. Getting beyond the political to the personal, A World Apart is both a triumph of empathy and a searing indictment of a system that has overlooked the plight of women in prison for far too long. At the center of the book is Denise, a mother serving five years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Denise’s son is nine and obsessed with Beanie Babies when she first arrives in prison. He is fourteen and in prison himself by the time she is finally released. As Denise struggles to reconcile life in prison with the realities of her son’s excessive freedom on the outside, we meet women like Julie, who gets through her time by distracting herself with flirtatious, often salacious relationships with male correctional officers; Louise, who keeps herself going by selling makeup and personalized food packages on the prison black market; Chris, whose mental illness leads her to kill herself in prison; and Susan, who, after thirteen years of intermittent incarceration, has come to think of MCI-Framingham as home. Fearlessly truthful and revelatory, A World Apart is a major work of investigative journalism and social justice.
Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire
In the prison business, all roads lead to Texas. A pioneer in criminal justice severity - from assembly-line executions to supermax isolation, from mandatory sentencing to prison privatization - Texas is the most locked-down state in the most incarcerated country in the world. Texas Tough, a sweeping history of American imprisonment from the days of slavery to the present, explains how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric became a template for the nation. Drawing on the individual stories as well as authoritative research, Texas Tough reveals the true origins of America’s prison juggernaut and points toward a more just and humane future.
The Sun Does Shine
Hinton, Anthony Ray
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence - full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon - transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.
Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover sets a new standard for bold, in-depth reporting in this first-hand account of life inside the penal system. When Conover's request to shadow a recruit at the New York State Corrections Officer Academy was denied, he decided to apply for a job as a prison officer. So begins his odyssey at Sing Sing, once a model prison but now the state's most troubled maximum-security facility. The result of his year there is this remarkable look at one of America's most dangerous prisons, where drugs, gang wars, and sex are rampant, and where the line between violator and violated is often unclear. As sobering as it is suspenseful, Newjack is an indispensable contribution to the urgent debate about our country's criminal justice system, and a consistently fascinating read.
My Friend Leonard
My Friend Leonard is James Frey's hilarious and heartbreaking story of his friendship with the mobster who adopted him as his "son" at the end of A Million Little Pieces. At its core, My Friend Leonard is a story about the responsibility that comes with loving someone and going out on any number of limbs to care for him. And it is a book that proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.
Letters to an Incarcerated Brother
A compelling, important addition to Hill Harper’s bestselling series, inspired by young inmates who write to him seeking guidance After the publication of the bestselling Letters to a Young Brother, accomplished actor and speaker Hill Harper began to receive an increasing number of moving letters from inmates who yearned for a connection with a successful role model. With disturbing statistics on African-American incarceration rates on his mind, Harper set out to address the specific needs of inmates. Harper’s powerful message from the heart provides advice and inspiration in the face of despair along with encouraging words for restoring a sense of self-worth. Uplifting and insightful, Letters to an Incarcerated Brother provides the hope and inspiration inmates and their families need.
Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America
From award-winning investigative journalist Kyle Swenson, Good Kids, Bad City is the true story of the longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration, and a critical social and political history of Cleveland, the city that convicted them.In the early 1970s, three African-American men - Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson - were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history’s most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history - one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension - Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is a work of astonishing empathy and insight: an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered.
Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America
In the early 1970s, three African-American men - Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson - were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history’s most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history - one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension - Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is a work of astonishing empathy and insight: an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered.
Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All
Powerful, captivating, and hopeful, Dreams from the Monster Factory goes beyond statistics and sensational portrayals of prison life and reveals the troubling realities of U.S. jails, and an astonishing alternative. Sunny Schwartz founded the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP), a restorative justice program based in a San Francisco jail that has cut recidivism for violent rearrests by up to 80 percent. Schwartz makes no excuses for the rapists, gangbangers and murderers she works with, nor will she excuse a prison system that churns out criminals who are more dangerous when they leave prison than when they arrived. Instead, she's created a correctional program that is designed to empower victims and require offenders to take true responsibility for their actions and eliminate their violent behavior.
Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn't Commit
Cook, Kerry Max
Kerry Cook is an innocent man who wrongly served two decades in Texas's notorious death house for the brutal 1977 rape and murder of 21-year-old Linda Jo Edwards. His struggle for freedom is said to be one of the worst cases of police and prosecutorial misconduct in American history. In the summer of 1977, Cook was staying in Tyler, TX. He met an attractive young woman named Linda Edwards and was invited back to her apartment for a drink and left his fingerprints on the sliding glass door. Four days later, Ms. Edwards was found brutally murdered. When the police dusted for prints, they found Cook's and immediately arrested him. Edward Jackson testified that Cook confessed to the murder during a jailhouse conversation. Jackson was set free, only to kill again several years later. Cook, on the other hand, was convicted and sentenced to death. He was thrown into a world for which no one could be prepared, and he survived beatings, sexual abuse, and depression; all the while, he fought against a justice system that was determined to keep him quiet and loath to admit a mistake. Through the work of a crusading group of lawyers who forced a series of retrials, his case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the case be reconsidered. It wasn't until the spring of 1999 that Cook was finally able to put the nightmare behind him: long-suppressed DNA evidence had linked James Mayfield, Linda Edwards's ex-lover, to the crime.
Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States
Beyond These Walls is an ambitious and far-ranging exploration that tracks the legacy of crime and imprisonment in the United States, from the historical roots of the American criminal justice system to our modern state of over-incarceration, and offers a bold vision for a new future. Author Tony Platt, a recognized authority in the field of criminal justice, challenges the way we think about how and why millions of people are tracked, arrested, incarcerated, catalogued, and regulated in the United States.Beyond These Walls traces the disturbing history of punishment and social control, revealing how the criminal justice system attempts to enforce and justify inequalities associated with class, race, gender, and sexuality. Prisons and police departments are central to this process, but other institutions – from immigration and welfare to educational and public health agencies – are equally complicit.Platt argues that international and national politics shape perceptions of danger and determine the policies of local criminal justice agencies, while private policing and global corporations are deeply and undemocratically involved in the business of homeland security.Finally, Beyond These Walls demonstrates why efforts to reform criminal justice agencies have often expanded rather than contracted the net of social control. Drawing upon a long tradition of popular resistance, Platt concludes with a strategic vision of what it will take to achieve justice for all in this era of authoritarian disorder.
American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment
A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history.In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still.The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone.A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.
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