After twenty years on death row, Mumia Abu-Jamal was released from his death sentence . . . but not the conviction. This once prominent radio reporter was convicted for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982, after a trial many have criticized as profoundly biased. Live from Death Row is a collection of his prison writings—an impassioned yet unflinching account of the brutalities and humiliations of prison life, and a scathing indictment of racism and political bias in the American judicial system.
He was seventeen when an all-white jury sentenced him to prison for a crime he didn't commit. Now, in this unforgettable memoir, a pioneering lawyer recalls the journey that led to his exoneration--and inspired him to devote his life to fighting the many injustices in our legal system. Seventeen years old and facing nearly thirty years behind bars, Jarrett Adams sought to figure out the why behind his fate. Sustained by his mother and aunts who brought him back from the edge of despair through letters of prayer and encouragement, Adams became obsessed with our legal system in all its damaged glory. After studying how his constitutional rights to effective counsel had been violated, he solicited the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, an organization that exonerates the wrongfully convicted, and won his release after nearly ten years in prison. But the journey was far from over.
Jimmy Santiago Baca's harrowing, brilliant memoir of his life before, during, and immediately after the years he spent in a maximum-security prison garnered tremendous critical acclaim and went on to win the prestigious 2001 International Prize. Long considered one of the best poets in America today, Baca was illiterate at the age of twenty-one and facing five to ten years behind bars for selling drugs. A Place to Stand is the remarkable tale of how he emerged after his years in the penitentiary -- much of it spent in isolation -- with the ability to read and a passion for writing poetry.
A searing volume by a poet whose work conveys 'the visceral effect that prison has on identity' (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). Felon tells the story of the effects of incarceration in fierce, dazzling poems-canvassing a wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace-and, in doing so, creates a travelogue for an imagined life. Reginald Dwayne Betts confronts the funk of postincarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person's life. The poems move between traditional and newfound forms with power and agility-from revolutionary found poems created by redacting court documents to the astonishing crown of sonnets that serves as the volume's radiant conclusion. Drawing inspiration from lawsuits filed on behalf of the incarcerated, the redaction poems focus on the ways we exploit and erase the poor and imprisoned from public consciousness. Traditionally, redaction erases what is top secret; in Felon, Betts redacts what is superfluous, bringing into focus the profound failures of the criminal justice system and the inadequacy of the labels it generates. Challenging the complexities of language, Betts animates what it means to be a 'felon.
Corrections in Ink is an electric and unforgettable memoir about a young woman's journey-from the ice rink, to addiction and a prison sentence, to the newsroom-emerging with a fierce determination to expose the broken system she experienced. An elite, competitive figure skater growing up, Keri Blakinger poured herself into the sport, even competing at nationals. But when her skating partnership ended abruptly, her world shattered. With all the intensity she saved for the ice, she dove into self-destruction. From her first taste of heroin, the next nine years would be a blur-living on the streets, digging for a vein, selling drugs and sex, eventually plunging off a bridge when it all became too much, all while trying to hold herself together enough to finish her degree at Cornell. Then, on a cold day during Keri's senior year, the police stopped her. Caught with a Tupperware container full of heroin, she was arrested and ushered into a holding cell, a county jail, and finally into state prison. There, in the cruel "upside down," Keri witnessed callous conditions and encountered women from all walks of life-women who would change Keri forever.
Amid rising public concern about the proliferation and privatization of prisons, and their promise of enormous profits, world-renowned author and activist Angela Y. Davis argues for the abolition of the prison system as the dominant way of responding to America's social ills. "In thinking about the possible obsolescence of the prison," Davis writes, "we should ask how it is that so many people could end up in prison without major debates regarding the efficacy of incarceration." Whereas Reagan-era politicians with "tough on crime" stances argued that imprisonment and longer sentences would keep communities free of crime, history has shown that the practice of mass incarceration during that period has had little or no effect on official crime rates: in fact, larger prison populations led not to safer communities but to even larger prison populations. As we make our way into the twenty-first century-two hundred years after the invention of the penitentiary-the question of prison abolition has acquired an unprecedented urgency. Backed by growing numbers of prisons and prisoners, Davis analyzes these institutions in the U.S., arguing that the very future of democracy depends on our ability to develop radical theories and practices that make it possible to plan and fight for a world beyond the prison industrial complex.
Rapper Gucci Mane takes us to his roots in Alabama, the streets of East Atlanta, the trap house, and the studio where he found his voice as a peerless rapper. He reflects on his inimitable career and in the process confronts his dark past -- the murder charge, years behind bars, addiction, career highs and lows -- the making of the Trap God. It is one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of music. -- Adapted from book jacket.
Just weeks after graduating from the Dean's List from Tennessee State University, Keeda Haynes became an inmate at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, all for a crime she didn't commit. This was never meant to be her story. Her childhood was spent in church, band practice, and Girl Scouts meetings, and when she enrolled at TSU, the path ahead had seemed bright. Then one day her boyfriend had asked for a simple favor, to sign to receive some FedEx packages-packages she did not know were filled with marijuana. Suddenly she found herself in court and sentenced to seven years in prison-the same sentence she'd would have been handed if she had dealt the drugs herself. The experience of this injustice led her to question the foundations of her faith, and to confront a criminal justice system filled with race and class inequities-but instead of succumbing to despair and becoming yet another victim of our failed national "War on Drugs," she decided to dedicate her life toward making our justice system truly just. Even after she was released, she knew there was still so much freedom left to fight for. Haynes attended law school at night and became a public defender.
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.
Blood In My Eye was completed only days before its author was killed. George Jackson died on August 21, 1971, at the hands of San Quentin prison guards during an alleged escape attempt. At eighteen, George Jackson was convicted of stealing seventy dollars from a gas station and was sentenced from one year to life. He was to spent the rest of his life -- eleven years-- in the California prison system, seven in solitary confinement. In prison he read widely and transformed himself into an activist and political theoretician who defined himself as a revolutionary.
We all know that orange is the new black and mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow, but how much do we actually know about the structure, goals, and impact of our criminal justice system? Understanding Mass Incarceration offers the first comprehensive overview of the incarceration apparatus put in place by the world's largest jailer: the United States. Drawing on a growing body of academic and professional work, Understanding Mass Incarceration describes in plain English the many competing theories of criminal justice--from rehabilitation to retribution, from restorative justice to justice reinvestment. In a lively and accessible style, author James Kilgore illuminates the difference between prisons and jails, probation and parole, laying out key concepts and policies such as the War on Drugs, broken windows policing, three-strikes sentencing, the school-to-prison pipeline, recidivism, and prison privatization. Informed by the crucial lenses of race and gender, he addresses issues typically omitted from the discussion: the rapidly increasing incarceration of women, Latinos, and transgender people; the growing imprisonment of immigrants; and the devastating impact of mass incarceration on communities. Both field guide and primer, Understanding Mass Incarceration will be an essential resource for those engaged in criminal justice activism as well as those new to the subject.
Inside this place, not of it reveals some of the most egregious human rights violations within women's prisons in the United States. In their own words, the thirteen narrators in this book recount their lives leading up to incarceration and their experiences inside--ranging from forced sterilization and shackling during childbirth, to physical and sexual abuse by prison staff. Together, their testimonies illustrate the harrowing struggles for survival that women in prison must endure.
The story of a fourteen-year-old sentenced to life in prison, of the extraordinary relationship that developed between him and the woman he shot, and of his release after twenty-six years of imprisonment through the efforts of legal activist Bryan Stevenson.
Provides a roadmap for incarcerated people and their allies to have a thriving writing life behind bars--and through walls--drawing on the unique insights of over 50 justice-involved contributors and their allies to offer advice, inspiration, and resources.
When The New Press, the Center for American Progress, and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples and Family Movement issued a call for innovative reform ideas, over three hundred currently and formerly incarcerated individuals responded. What We Know collects two dozen of their best suggestions, each of which proposes a policy solution derived from their own lived experience. A thoughtful and surprising cornucopia of ideas for improving America's criminal justice system, from those most impacted by it.
Prison Writings is a wise and unsettling book, both memoir and manifesto, chronicling his life in Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. Invoking the Sun Dance, in which pain leads one to a transcendent reality, Peltier explores his suffering and the insights it has borne him. He also locates his experience within the history of the American Indian peoples and their struggles to overcome the federal government's injustices.
From the co-creators and co-hosts of the Peabody- and Pulitzer-nominated podcast comes this illuminating view of prison life, as told by presently and formerly incarcerated people. The United States locks up more people per capita than any other nation in the world--600,000 each year and 2.3 million in total. The acclaimed podcast Ear Hustle, named after the prison term for eavesdropping, gives voice to that ever-growing prison population. Co-created for the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX by visual artist Nigel Poor and inmate Earlonne Woods, who was serving thirty-one years to life before his sentence was commuted in 2018, Ear Hustle was launched in the basement media lab of California's San Quentin State Prison. As the first podcast created and produced entirely within prison, it has since been globally lauded for the rare access and perspective it contributes to the conversation about incarceration.
In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer at the University of Michigan, a leading voice on criminal justice reform, and an inspiration to thousands. In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish. Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit's east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor--but at age 11, his parents' marriage began to unravel and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair. Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next.
On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder.
For the first time, the full, fascinating, and inspirational true story of Danny Trejo's journey from crime, prison, addiction, and loss to unexpected fame as Hollywood's favorite bad guy with a heart of gold.
Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did not commit.
That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.
The Black leader discusses his political philosophy and reveals details of his life, shedding light on the ideas that enabled him to gain the allegiance of a still growing percentage of the Black population.
In 1996, Howard Zehr, a criminal justice activist and photographer, published Doing Life, a book of photo portraits of individuals serving life sentences without the possibility of parole at a prison in Pennsylvania. Twenty-five years later, Zehr revisited many of the same individuals and photographed them in the same poses. In Still Doing Life, Zehr and co-author Barb Toews present the two photos of each individual side by side, along with interviews conducted at the two different photo sessions, creating a deeply disturbing tableaux of people who literally have not moved for the past quarter-century.