The American prison system has gone off the rails. Originally started in the country by King George III, the pre-American Revolutionary prisons were inhuman and savage petri houses of filth and diseases. The first post-Revolutionary prisons were not much better; in fact, the Civil War prisons rivaled the inhumanity of pre-Revolutionary ones. It was not until Reconstruction when the stark realities of American prisons were viewed by highly educated overseers as shameful and repugnant. A new language referenced the need to view conceptually a new type of prison: a reformative one that would prepare the prisoner for post-incarceration life. However, throughout the near century and a half, the politicians in charge of legislation have done little to change the culture of prison warehousing.
This story will concentrate on the facts that keep the unfortunate in miserable sardine cans without any provable consideration for change. Our politicians are the nation’s lifeline for change, and yet many should be switching places with the incarcerated. If there is ever going to be a sincere change in the warehousing of human beings, there has to be a will for compassion and the election of politicians who do more than mouth false promises.
A country is only as good as its least fortunate. Providing an atmosphere to allow for self-actualization rather than big government handouts starts with health, the family unit, and especially education. Recidivism is the default issue. Only a minority get out with a sense of pride and the ability to reconstruct a decent life, and there is often a latent prejudice against former prisoners. Finding a “second chance” vocational opportunity or an avenue back to school for youth is an absolute must. Prisons provide training in some areas, but nowhere meeting the needs of the large prison populations. This a generational issue which has never been fully remediated. The book takes on the central issues underpinning the ever continuum of prison expansion.