Purpose Of Prisons Essay

Purpose Of Prisons Essay-45
Prisoners are hidden from public view, politically invisible and, in many cases, formally disenfranchised.In place of actual information about life in and after prison, Americans largely subsist on grotesque stereotypes about what prisons are like and how people find themselves inside.

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¤ is undoubtedly interesting, and an uninformed, unincarcerated public would likely benefit itself, and perhaps prisoners, by reading it.

To the extent that it intervenes in an ongoing public debate about prisons, it does so by providing space for prisoners themselves to enter the discussion.

The sections of the book extend this conceit by describing the prison world as a city with its own history, norms, and dysfunctions.

Of course, one book can no more describe all of the prison system than one book could exhaustively describe the life of a major city like Chicago or Philadelphia.

A lengthy discussion of all the bad things visited upon prisoners is to be expected in such writing.

What is more striking is the ordinary life described in the essays: tales of prisoners’ difficulties obtaining postage stamps or vegan food, or staying sober; stories about fighting and avoiding fights, finding a boyfriend and breaking up, chatting with a guard about the presidential race, or swapping present an everyday world filled with actual people.

But ’s contributors tell us that life in American prison is ugly, violent, and monotonous.

Above all, it is unfair: prisoners are dealt with capriciously, and the stigma and injury of imprisonment does not end with their eventual release. Hartman notes of California, “In my state, an admittedly extreme example, on any given day about half the prison population are parole violators, a majority of whom have broken no law, but rather violated one of the vast web of confusing and devious tripwire rules they must navigate on the other side of the fences.” Some of the anthology’s most poignant essays describe the harm that incarceration does to families: Linda Field and Andrew R. both write movingly about trying to maintain ties with their young children while serving long sentences.

This description of the everyday is the main editorial goal of the book.

The writing sometimes lacks polish — due in part to the fact the editors had little opportunity to correspond with the contributors, and therefore could not put the pieces through successive rounds of revision — but it always rings true.


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