Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dreams from the Monster Factory: a tale of prison, redemption and one woman's fight to restore justice to all

by Sunny Schwartz with David Boodell

I have a weird and mostly unanalyzed fascination with prison. (Could it be a gay sort-of-fetish thing?) Anyway, this book doesn't have any sexy bits, like the HBO series Oz, but it's a pretty good read. The author worked in jails in San Francisco, bringing in educational opportunities, anger management classes, and other programs to prepare inmates to rejoin society. Sure, criminals are there to be punished not coddled, but since very nearly all of them will eventually be released, and given the very high rates of recidivism and re-incarceration, it makes sense to use the opportunity to help them. If they're just corralled and left to stew in their own juices, fighting with one another and still being criminals inside the jailhouse, they'll emerge even more bitter and screwed up, more violent and maladjusted. The strength and energy of the author's personality and odds-beating positivity make an engaging story of a subject that could easily be a real downer.

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