What's Prison For?
Punishment and Rehabilitation in the Age of Mass Incarceration
by Bill Keller
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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 07 Oct 2022
From one of America's most acclaimed journalists, a look inside America's prisons--and a call to make them real places of education and rehabilitation.
What's Prison For? examines the “incarceration” part of “mass incarceration.” What happens inside prisons and jails, where nearly two million Americans are held? Bill Keller, one of America’s most accomplished journalists, has spent years deeply immersed in the subject. He argues that prisons must become places where rehabilitation is a top priority, and introduces us to reformers who are trying to prepare incarcerated people for a better life on the outside.
Keller takes us inside the walls of our prisons, where we meet men and women who have found purpose while in state custody; American corrections officials who have set out to learn from Europe’s state-of-the-art prison campuses; a rehab unit within a Pennsylvania prison, dubbed Little Scandinavia, where lifers serve as mentors; a college behind bars in San Quentin; a rare women's prison that helps imprisoned mothers bond with their children; and Keller's own classroom at Sing Sing. Surprisingly optimistic, What's Prison For? is an indispensable guide to our prison system, and a powerful argument that the status quo is a shameful waste of human potential.
Bill Keller is the founding editor-in-chief of the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organizatin that covers criminal justice in the United States. He was the executive editor of the New York Times and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his reporting on the USSR. He lives on Long Island, New York.
"A learned, lucid primer on the American prison system--its history and particularly on the best ideas for reforming it. Broadly sourced, intelligently curated, wisely explained." -- Ted Conover, author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
"America's unjust system of mass incarceration tears families apart, costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and doesn't make our communities any safer. Bill Keller has been shining a light at our broken criminal justice system for years, and powerfully argues that America can and must do beter. To do nothing or say nothing only reinforces the current nightmare. I hope you read this book, learn, and in some way, join the growing bipartisan efforts to bring about urgently needed change." -- Senator Cory Booker
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