Prison Blossoms
by Alexander Berkman, Henry Bauer, Carl Nold, Miriam Brody and Bonnie Cleo Buettner
Harvard University Press, 2011
Published here for the first time is a crucial document in the history of American radicalism—the "Prison Blossoms," a series of essays, narratives, poems, and fables composed by three activist anarchists imprisoned for the 1892 assault on anti-union steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick.
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Their Sisters' Keepers
by Estelle B. Freedman
University of Michigan Press, 1984
This study of prison reform adds a new chapter to the history of women's struggle for justice in America
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Prison Masculinities
by Don Sabo
Temple University Press, 2001
This book explores the  frightening ways in which our prisons mirror the  worst aspects of society-wide gender relations. It is part of the growing research on men and masculinities. The collection is unusual in that it contributions from activists, academics, and prisoners.

The opening section, which features an essay by Angela Davis, focuses on the historical roots of the prison system, cultural practices surrounding gender and punishment, and the current expansion of corrections into the "prison-industrial complex."

The next  section examines the dominant or subservient roles that men play in prison and the connections between this hierarchy and male violence. Another section looks at the spectrum of intimate relations behind bars, from rape to friendship, and another at physical and mental health.

The last section is about efforts to reform prisons and prison masculinities, including support groups for men. It features an essay about prospects for post-release success in the community written by a man who, after doing time in Soledad and San Quentin, went on to get a doctorate in counseling.

The contributions from prisoners include an essay on enforced celibacy by Mumia Abu-Jamal, as well as fiction and poetry on prison health policy, violence, and intimacy. The creative contributions were selected from the more than 200 submissions received from prisoners.
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Recollections of Life on the Prison Ship Jersey
by Thomas Dring
edited by David Swain
Westholme Publishing, 2010
“Until now, Thomas Dring’s memoir of his incarceration on a British prison ship has been available only in the heavily edited version first published in 1829. Now, however, thanks to the careful work of David Swain, students of the Revolutionary War at long last have a reliable edition of this fascinating and important source.”—EDWIN G. BURROWS, author of Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War and Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

“Among the many events which took place during the Revolutionary War from its commencement to its termination [are] the cruelties inflicted upon that unfortunate class of men who had the misfortune to be numbered among the prisoners [of the British] and more particularly those whom the dreadful chance of war had placed on board their prison ships at New York.” So begins the remarkable narrative of Thomas Dring. In 1824, Dring was an aging man of 65, retired in his native state of Rhode Island. Forty-two years before, he, like thousands of other young men, had been caught up in the American cause. In 1782, he had been captured by the British and sentenced to the infamous prison ship Jersey, a demasted hulk anchored in the East River off New York City. It is estimated that more than 11,000 men perished on the British prison ships over the course of the war, and their bones regularly washed up on the shore long after hostilities ceased. Dring survived to tell the tale, and in 1824, he decided to do just that. He was motivated partly because the fate of the prisoners was beginning to be doubted, that their hardships were thought to have been grossly exaggerated, and even that the entire experience had never occurred.

This book publishes for the first time the complete text of Dring’s handwritten manuscript, a major primary-source document, in which he describes the horrible conditions, treatment by guards, and experiences that he and others endured during captivity. Recollections of Life on the Prison Ship Jersey is a plea not to forget but instead to remember the inhumanity of the captors and the sacrifices of the captives—a message that continues to resonate today. Editor David Swain has provided an introductory essay and extensive notes that contain background information and historical documentation to accompany and illuminate the original manuscript.

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Resister
by Bruce Dancis
Cornell University Press, 2014

Bruce Dancis arrived at Cornell University in 1965 as a youth who was no stranger to political action. He grew up in a radical household and took part in the 1963 March on Washington as a fifteen-year-old. He became the first student at Cornell to defy the draft by tearing up his draft card and soon became a leader of the draft resistance movement. He also turned down a student deferment and refused induction into the armed services. He was the principal organizer of the first mass draft card burning during the Vietnam War, an activist in the Resistance (a nationwide organization against the draft), and a cofounder and president of the Cornell chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Dancis spent nineteen months in federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky, for his actions against the draft.

In Resister, Dancis not only gives readers an insider's account of the antiwar and student protest movements of the sixties but also provides a rare look at the prison experiences of Vietnam-era draft resisters. Intertwining memory, reflection, and history, Dancis offers an engaging firsthand account of some of the era’s most iconic events, including the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Abbie Hoffman-led "hippie invasion" of the New York Stock Exchange, the antiwar confrontation at the Pentagon in 1967, and the dangerous controversy that erupted at Cornell in 1969 involving African American students, their SDS allies, and the administration and faculty. Along the way, Dancis also explores the relationship between the topical folk and rock music of the era and the political and cultural rebels who sought to change American society.

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Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? 
by Steven Raphael and Michael A. Stoll
Russell Sage Foundation, 2013

Between 1975 and 2007, the American incarceration rate increased nearly fivefold, a historic increase that puts the United States in a league of its own among advanced economies. We incarcerate more people today than we ever have, and we stand out as the nation that most frequently uses incarceration to punish those who break the law. What factors explain the dramatic rise in incarceration rates in such a short period of time? In Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? Steven Raphael and Michael A. Stoll analyze the shocking expansion of America’s prison system and illustrate the pressing need to rethink mass incarceration in this country.

Raphael and Stoll carefully evaluate changes in crime patterns, enforcement practices and sentencing laws to reach a sobering conclusion: So many Americans are in prison today because we have chosen, through our public policies, to put them there. They dispel the notion that a rise in crime rates fueled the incarceration surge; in fact, crime rates have steadily declined to all-time lows. There is also little evidence for other factors commonly offered to explain the prison boom, such as the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill since the 1950s, changing demographics, or the crack-cocaine epidemic. By contrast, Raphael and Stoll demonstrate that legislative changes to a relatively small set of sentencing policies explain nearly all prison growth since the 1980s. So-called tough on crime laws, including mandatory minimum penalties and repeat offender statutes, have increased the propensity to punish more offenders with lengthier prison sentences. Raphael and Stoll argue that the high-incarceration regime has inflicted broad social costs, particularly among minority communities, who form a disproportionate share of the incarcerated population. Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? ends with a powerful plea to consider alternative crime control strategies, such as expanded policing, drug court programs, and sentencing law reform, which together can end our addiction to incarceration and still preserve public safety.

As states confront the budgetary and social costs of the incarceration boom, Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? provides a revealing and accessible guide to the policies that created the era of mass incarceration and what we can do now to end it.

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Pictures from a Drawer
by Bruce Jackson
Temple University Press, 2009

For more than forty years Bruce Jackson has been documenting—in books, photographs, audio recording, and film—inmates’ lives in American prisons. In November, 1975, he acquired a collection of old ID photos while he was visiting the Cummins Unit, a state prison farm in Arkansas. They are published together for the first time in this remarkable book.

The 121 images that appear here were likely taken between 1915 and 1940. As Jackson describes in an absorbing introduction, the function of these photos was not portraiture—their function was to “fold a person into the controlled space of a dossier.” Here, freed from their prison “jackets,” and printed at sizes far larger than their originals, these one-time ID photos have now become portraits. Jackson’s restoration transforms what were small bureaucratic artifacts into moving images of real men and women.

Pictures from a Drawer also contains an extraordinary description of everyday life at Cummins prison in the 1950s, written originally by hand and presented to Jackson in 1973 by its author, a long-time inmate.

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Hard Time
by Ted Genoways
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002
A compelling look at prison life in another era, vividly recalled through historic photographs and startling first-person accounts.





Penitentiary stripes, days in "the hole," contraband knives, murder, sex, suicide, and the daily reality of "diabolical, penal servitude"--prisons of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were dangerous, sometimes deadly, stone fortresses bent on exacting punishment and penance from their inmates.





When it was founded, the old State Prison at Stillwater, Minnesota--the facility where "incorrigibles" were sent to do "hard time"--was no different, but over the course of sixty-five years it became one of the most respected prisons in the nation. Featuring more than one hundred historic photographs of inmates, guards, and wardens, as well as dozens of stories by the men and women who lived behind bars, Hard Time stunningly recreates the feel of the era and the slow evolution from the dark days of the territorial period to the progressive years at the turn of the century.





From its planning in the mid-nineteenth century to its closing in 1914, the prison witnessed the capture and imprisonment of the Younger gang in 1876; the prison fire of 1884; the daring escape of Frank P. Landers and Oscar J. Carlon in 1887; the twine shop insurrection of 1899; and the manhunt for escaped convicts Peter Juhl and Jerry McCarty in 1911. Its history is packed with such peculiar characters as "Bull Beef" Webber, the warden who allowed murderers to embark on hunting trips and an incarcerated prostitute to work out of the prison hospital; Charles Price, a convicted murderer who became famous for his prison greenhouse; and John Carter, the convicted thief-turned-poet who won his freedom with his verse. Their haunting words and the stark images reveal the fascinating subculture that emerged from days counted out in confinement.





TED GENOWAYS is the editor of The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández and A Perfect Picture of Hell: Eyewitness Accounts by Civil War Prisoners from the 12th Iowa. His other books include Bullroarer: A Sequence, winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize and the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award.





TED CONOVER is the author of numerous books of nonfiction, most recently Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
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Fourth City
edited by Doran Larson
Michigan State University Press, 2014
At 2.26 million, incarcerated Americans not only outnumber the nation’s fourth-largest city, they make up a national constituency bound by a shared condition. Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America presents more than seventy essays from twenty-seven states, written by incarcerated Americans chronicling their experience inside. In essays as moving as they are eloquent, the authors speak out against a national prison complex that fails so badly at the task of rehabilitation that 60% of the 650,000 Americans released each year return to prison. These essays document the authors’ efforts at self-help, the institutional resistance such efforts meet at nearly every turn, and the impact, in money and lives, that this resistance has on the public. Directly confronting the images of prisons and prisoners manufactured by popular media, so-called reality TV, and for-profit local and national news sources, Fourth City recognizes American prisoners as our primary, frontline witnesses to the dysfunction of the largest prison system on earth. Filled with deeply personal stories of coping, survival, resistance, and transformation, Fourth City should be read by every American who believes that law should achieve order in the cause of justice rather than at its cost.
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The Criminals of Lima and Their Worlds
by Carlos Aguirre
Duke University Press, 2005
The Criminals of Lima and Their Worlds is the first major historical study of the creation and development of the prison system in Peru. Carlos Aguirre examines the evolution of prisons for male criminals in Lima from the conception—in the early 1850s—of the initial plans to build penitentiaries through the early-twentieth-century prison reforms undertaken as part of President Augusto Leguia’s attempts to modernize and expand the Peruvian state. Aguirre reconstructs the social, cultural, and doctrinal influences that determined how lawbreakers were treated, how programs of prison reform fared, and how inmates experienced incarceration. He argues that the Peruvian prisons were primarily used not to combat crime or to rehabilitate allegedly deviant individuals, but rather to help reproduce and maintain an essentially unjust social order. In this sense, he finds that the prison system embodied the contradictory and exclusionary nature of modernization in Peru.

Drawing on a large collection of prison and administrative records archived at Peru’s Ministry of Justice, Aguirre offers a detailed account of the daily lives of men incarcerated in Lima’s jails. In showing the extent to which the prisoners actively sought to influence prison life, he reveals the dynamic between prisoners and guards as a process of negotiation, accommodation, and resistance. He describes how police and the Peruvian state defined criminality and how their efforts to base a prison system on the latest scientific theories—imported from Europe and the United States—foundered on the shoals of financial constraints, administrative incompetence, corruption, and widespread public indifference. Locating his findings within the political and social mores of Lima society, Aguirre reflects on the connections between punishment, modernization, and authoritarian traditions in Peru.

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Asylum, Prison, and Poorhouse
by David L. Lightner
Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

This illustrated collection of annotated newspaper articles and memorials by Dorothea Dix provides a forum for the great mid-nineteenth-century humanitarian and reformer to speak for herself.

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802­–87) was perhaps the most famous and admired woman in America for much of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the early 1840s, she launched a personal crusade to persuade the various states to provide humane care and effective treatment for the mentally ill by funding specialized hospitals for that purpose. The appalling conditions endured by most mentally ill inmates in prisons, jails, and poorhouses led her to take an active interest also in prison reform and in efforts to ameliorate poverty.

In 1846–­47 Dix brought her crusade to Illinois. She presented two lengthy memorials to the legislature, the first describing conditions at the state penitentiary at Alton and the second discussing the sufferings of the insane and urging the establishment of a state hospital for their care. She also wrote a series of newspaper articles detailing conditions in the jails and poorhouses of many Illinois communities.

These long-forgotten documents, which appear in unabridged form in this book, contain a wealth of information on the living conditions of some of the most unfortunate inhabitants of Illinois. In his preface, David L. Lightner describes some of the vivid images that emerge from Dorothea Dix's descriptions of social conditions in Illinois a century and a half ago: "A helpless maniac confined throughout the bitter cold of winter to a dark and filthy pit. Prison inmates chained in hallways and cellars because no more men can be squeezed into the dank and airless cells. Aged paupers auctioned off by county officers to whoever will maintain them at the lowest cost."

Lightner provides an introduction to every document, placing each memorial and newspaper article in its proper social and historical context. He also furnishes detailed notes, making these documents readily accessible to readers a century and a half later. In his final chapter, Lightner assesses both the immediate and the continuing impact of Dix's work.

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Alcatraz Screw
by George H. Gregory
introduction by John W. Roberts
University of Missouri Press, 2002
Alcatraz Screw is a firsthand account from a prison guard’s perspective of some of the most storied years at the infamous U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz. George Gregory began his career as a guard for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1940. Following his training, he was sent to the federal prison at Sandstone, Minnesota. A few years later he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Badly wounded at Iwo Jima, he returned to Sandstone after a long rehabilitation. When the Bureau of Prisons closed Sandstone in 1947, Gregory was transferred to Alcatraz, which had been a federal penitentiary since 1934.

For the next fifteen years, Gregory worked on “The Rock.” He takes the reader along on a correctional officer’s tour of duty, showing what it was like to pull a lonely, tedious night of sentry duty in the Road Tower, or witness illicit transactions in the clothing room, or forcibly quell a riot in the cell blocks. Gregory provides an insider’s account of the tenures of all four of Alcatraz’s wardens and their sometimes contradictory approaches to administering the institution. He knew and regularly interacted with such legendary inmates as Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Without glamorizing or demonizing either the staff or the convicts, Alcatraz Screw provides a candid portrayal of corruption, drug abuse, and sexual practices, as well as efforts at reform and unrecorded acts of kindness. Various incidents in the memoir convey the fear, hatred, frustration, boredom, and unavoidable tension of being incarcerated. With the inclusion of maps and diagrams of Alcatraz Island, as well as photographs of inmates, officers, and the prison itself, this book offers insight into life at the notorious Alcatraz from an unprecedented perspective.
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Too Big to Jail
by Brandon L. Garrett
Harvard University Press, 2014
American courts routinely hand down harsh sentences to individuals, but a very different standard of justice applies to corporations. Too Big to Jail takes readers into a complex, compromised world of backroom deals, for an unprecedented look at what happens when criminal charges are brought against a major company in the United States.
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Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion
edited by Ronald L. Numbers
Harvard University Press, 2009
Ronald Numbers has recruited the leading scholars in this new history of science to puncture the myths, from Galileo's incarceration to Darwin's deathbed conversion to Einstein's belief in a personal God who "didn't play dice with the universe." Each chapter in Galileo Goes to Jail shows how much we have to gain by seeing beyond the myths.
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