Lists and Suggestions
List: Prison Reform
After life : my journey from incarceration to freedom
Johnson, Alice Marie, 1955- author.
How do you hold on to hope after more than twenty years of imprisonment? For Alice Marie Johnson th... More
How do you hold on to hope after more than twenty years of imprisonment? For Alice Marie Johnson the answer lies with God. For years, Alice lived a normal life without a criminal record -- she was a manager at FedEx, a wife, and a mother. But after an emotionally and financially tumultuous period in her life left her with few options, she turned to crime as a way to pay off her mounting debts. Convicted in 1996 for her nonviolent involvement in a Memphis cocaine trafficking organization, Alice received a life sentence under the mandatory sentencing laws of the time. Locked behind bars, Alice looked to God. Eventually becoming an ordained minister, she relied on her faith to sustain hope over more than two decades -- until 2018, when the president commuted her sentence at the behest of Kim Kardashian West, who had taken up Alice's cause. In this honest, faith-driven memoir, Alice explains how she held on to hope and gave it to others, from becoming a playwright to mentoring her fellow prisoners. She reveals how Christianity and her unshakeable belief in God helped her persevere and inspired her to share her faith in a video that would go viral -- and come to the attention of celebrities who were moved to action. Today, Alice is an icon for the prison reform movement and a humble servant who embraces gratitude and God for her freedom. In this powerful book, she recalls all of the firsts she has experienced through her activism and provides an authentic portrait of the crisis that is mass incarceration. Linking social justice to spiritual faith, she makes a persuasive and poignant argument for justice that transcends tribal politics. Her story is a beacon in the darkness of despair, reminding us of the power of redemption and the importance of making second chances count. Less
American prison : a reporter's undercover journey into the business of punishment
Bauer, Shane, author.
"A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: ... More
"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. IIn 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 expose 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"-- Less
"Prisons make us safer" : and 20 other myths about mass incarceration
Law, Victoria, 1977- author.
Utilizing narrative, statistics and history, this book identifies and dispels 21 popularly-held myth... More
Utilizing narrative, statistics and history, this book identifies and dispels 21 popularly-held myths about mass incarceration Less
A country called prison : mass incarceration and the making of a new nation
Looman, Mary D., author.
"The United States is the world leader in incarcerating citizens. 707 people out of every 100,... More
"The United States is the world leader in incarcerating citizens. 707 people out of every 100,000 are imprisoned. If those currently incarcerated in the US prison system were a country, it would be the 102nd most populated nation in the world. Aside from looking at the numbers, if we could look at prison from a new viewpoint, as its own country rather than an institution made up of walls and wires, policies and procedures, and legal statutes, what might we be able to learn? In A Country Called Prison, Mary Looman and John Carl attempt to answer this question by proposing a paradigm shift in the way that American society views mass incarceration. Weaving together sociological and psychological principles, theories of political reform, and real-life stories from experiences working in prison and with at-risk families, Looman and Carl form a foundation of understanding to demonstrate that prison is a culture, not purely an institution made up of fences, building, and policies. Prison continues well after incarceration, as ex-felons leave correctional facilities without legal identification of American citizenship, without money, and often return to impoverished neighborhoods. Imprisoned in the isolation of poverty, these legal aliens turn to illegal ways of providing for themselves and often return to prison. This situation is unsustainable and America is clearly facing an incarceration epidemic that requires a new perspective to eradicate it. A Country Called Prison offers concrete, doable, and economical suggestions to reform not only the prison system, but also to help prisoners return to a healthier life after incarceration"-- Less
Decarcerating America : from mass punishment to public health
Drucker, Ernest M., 1940- editor.
Mass incarceration will end--there is an emerging consensus that we've been locking up too man... More
Mass incarceration will end--there is an emerging consensus that we've been locking up too many people for too long. But with more than 2.2 million Americans behind bars right now, how do we go about bringing people home? Decarcerating America collects some of the leading thinkers in the criminal justice reform movement to strategize about how to cure America of its epidemic of mass punishment. Less
What's prison for? : punishment and rehabilitation in the age of mass incarceration / Bill Keller.
Keller, Bill, author.
What purpose is incarceration supposed to serve, and how successfully does it serve that purpose? Wh... More
What purpose is incarceration supposed to serve, and how successfully does it serve that purpose? What's Prison For? traces the tension between our national punitive streak and our faith in rehabilitation, between viewing prisoners as menacing Others to be incapacitated and shamed and, alternatively, viewing them as future neighbors Less
Halfway home : race, punishment, and the afterlife of mass incarceration
Miller, Reuben Jonathan, author.
A Chicago Cook County Jail chaplain and mass-incarceration sociologist examines the lifelong realit... More
A Chicago Cook County Jail chaplain and mass-incarceration sociologist examines the lifelong realities of a criminal record, demonstrating how America's justice system is less about rehabilitation and more about structured disenfranchisement. Less
A little piece of light : a memoir of hope, prison, and a life unbound
Hylton, Donna, author.
"A bold new voice from the frontlines of the criminal justice reform movement. Like so many wo... More
"A bold new voice from the frontlines of the criminal justice reform movement. Like so many women before her and so many women yet to come, Donna Hylton's early life was a nightmare of abuse that left her feeling alone and convinced of her worthlessness. In 1986, she took part in a horrific act and was sentenced to 25 years to life for kidnapping and second-degree murder. It seemed that Donna had reached the end--at age 19, due to her own mistakes and bad choices, her life was over. [This book] tells the heartfelt, often harrowing tale of Donna's journey back to life as she faced the truth about the crime that locked her away for 27 years ... and celebrated the family she found inside prison that ultimately saved her. Behind the bars of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, alongside this generation's most infamous criminals, Donna learned to fight, then thrive. For the first time in her life, she realized she was not alone in the abuse and misogyny she experienced--and she was also not alone in fighting back. Since her release in 2012, Donna has emerged as a leading advocate for criminal justice reform and women's rights who speaks to politicians, violent abusers, prison officials, victims, and students to tell her story. But it's not her story alone, she is quick to say. She also represents the stories of thousands of women who have been unable to speak for themselves, until now."--Dust jacket. Less
Marking time : art in the age of mass incarceration
Fleetwood, Nicole R., author.
"More than two million men and women are currently behind bars in the United States. Incarcera... More
"More than two million men and women are currently behind bars in the United States. Incarceration not only separates the imprisoned from their families and communities, it also exposes them to shocking levels of violence and sexual assault and subjects them to the arbitrary cruelties of the criminal justice system. Yet, as Nicole Fleetwood reveals, America's prisons are filled with art. Despite the isolation and degradation they experience, the incarcerated are driven to assert their humanity in the face of a system that dehumanizes them. Based on interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated artists, prison visits, and the author's own family experiences with the penal system, Marking Time shows how the imprisoned turn ordinary objects into elaborate works of art. Working with meager supplies and in the harshest conditions-including solitary confinement-these artists find ways to resist the brutality and depravity that prisons engender. The impact of their art, Fleetwood observes, can be felt far beyond prison walls. Their bold works, many of which are being published for the first time in this volume, have opened new possibilities in American art. As the movement to reform the country's criminal justice system grows, art provides the imprisoned with a political voice. Their works testify to the economic and racial injustices that underpin American punishment and offer a new vision of freedom for the twenty-first century"-- Less
Prison by any other name : the harmful consequences of popular reforms
Schenwar, Maya, author.
"Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric... More
"Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. But many of these so-called reforms actually widen the net, weaving in new strands of punishment and control, and bringing new populations, who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment, under physical control by the state. As mainstream public opinion has begun to turn against mass incarceration, political figures on both sides of the spectrum are pushing for reform. But-though they're promoted as steps to confront high rates of imprisonment-many of these measures are transforming our homes and communities into prisons instead. In Prison by Any Other Name, activist journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change. A foreword by Michelle Alexander situates the book in the context of criminal justice reform conversations. Finally, the book offers a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices"-- Less
This is ear hustle : unflinching stories of everyday prison life / Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods.
Poor, Nigel, 1963- author.
The co-creators and co-hosts of the Peabody- and Pulitzer-nominated podcast Ear Hustle, which is nam... More
The co-creators and co-hosts of the Peabody- and Pulitzer-nominated podcast Ear Hustle, which is named after the prison term for “eavesdropping,” share stories that reveal the complexity of life for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated while illuminating the shared experiences of humanity that unite us all. Less
Solitary : unbroken by four decades in solitary confinement. My story of transformation and hope
Woodfox, Albert, author.
"[This] is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary... More
"[This] is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement--in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana--for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge from his odyssey within America's prison and judicial systems with his humanity and sense of hope for the future intact is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the United States and around the world. Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, Albert was behind bars in his early twenties when he was inspired to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living. He was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola prison in Louisiana for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were immediately accused of the crime and put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016. Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. Albert survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds."-- Less
Abolition for the people : the movement for a future without policing & prisons / edited by Colin Kaepernick.
The former NFL star turned social activist presents 30 essays from political prisoners, grassroots o... More
The former NFL star turned social activist presents 30 essays from political prisoners, grassroots organizers and scholars such as Angela Davis and Dereck Purnell that focus on the police and incarceration abolition movement. Less
Writing my wrongs : life, death, and redemption in an American prison
Senghor, Shaka, author.
"In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer a... More
"In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer at the University of Michigan, a leading voice on criminal justice reform, and an inspiration to thousands. In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish. Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit's east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor--but at age 11, his parents' marriage began to unravel and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair. Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his 19-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, and self-examination, tools that he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release at age 38, Senghor became an activist and mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his. His work in the community and the courage to share his story led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation and invitations to speak at events like TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Writing My Wrongs is a redemption story told through a stunningly human portrait of what it's like to grow up in the gravitational pull of poverty, violence, fear, and hopelessness. It's an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and hope, one that reminds us that our worst deeds don't define who we are or what we can contribute to the world. And it's a lasting testament to the power of compassion, prayer, and unconditional love, for reaching those whom society has forgotten"-- Less
Burning down the house : the end of juvenile prison
Bernstein, Nell, author.
"In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist ... More
"In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults. Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled"--Provided by publisher. Less
Charged : the new movement to transform American prosecution and end mass incarceration
Bazelon, Emily, author.
"A renowned investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a drivin... More
"A renowned investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America's mass incarceration crisis, and also offers a way out. The American criminal justice system is supposed to be a contest between two equal adversaries, the prosecution and the defense, with judges ensuring a fair fight. But in fact, it is prosecutors who have the upper hand, in a contest that is far from equal. More than anyone else, prosecutors decide who goes free and who goes to prison, and even who lives and who dies. The system wasn't designed for this kind of unchecked power, and in Charged, Emily Bazelon shows that it is an underreported cause of enormous injustice--and the missing piece in the mass incarceration puzzle. But that's only half the story. Prosecution in America is at a crossroads. The power of prosecutors makes them the actors in the system--the only actors--who can fix what's broken without changing a single law. They can end mass incarceration, protect against coercive plea bargains and convicting the innocent, and tackle racial bias. And because in almost every state we, the people, elect prosecutors, it is within our power to reshape the choices they make. In the last few years, for the first time in American history, a wave of reform-minded prosecutors has taken office in major cities throughout the country. Bazelon follows them, showing the difference they make for people caught in the system and how they are coming together as a new kind of lobby for justice and mercy. In Charged, Emily Bazelon mounts a major critique of the American criminal justice system--and charts the movement for change"-- Less