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Book Reviews

CRIMINAL INJUSTICE - Confronting the Prison Crisis

Submitted by Russell Bentley, Prisoner of the Drug War

via Prison Activist Resource Center -

Criminal Injustice is probably the best book on prison conditions and prison reform available today. It is a comprehensive examination of the prison situation in contemporary America, how and why things got to this point, and what we have to do to change them.

This book is filled with compelling and up to date data and ideas, and should be considered required reading for all activists working on behalf of prisoners and their families. Contributors to this excellent book include teachers, prisoners, religious organizations and death row inmates. The statistics and descriptions of conditions are startling and sometimes terrifying, and the arguments for change are eloquent and persuasive.

Prisoners will find this book enlightening and encouraging and prison reform activists will find the information to be useful in a variety of situations. Subjects covered include: The Economic Role of the U.S. Prison System, The Politics of Super Incarceration, Legislating Repression, AIDS in Prison, Women in Prison, American Political Prisoners, and The Death Penalty.

There is an appendix on how to organize, a well as contact info on the contributors and prison organizations across the country. PARC also offers a to organizing that can be obtained by writing to the enclosed. If information is ammunition, (and it is), this book is a literary A-bomb. Get it, read it, use it.

Edited by Elihu Rosenblatt / PARC
Published by South End Press 1996 $18.00
116 Saint Botolph Street Boston, MA 02115


edited by Daniel Burton Rose, with the editors of Prison Legal News, Dan Pens and Paul Wright

Book Review by afri-I, holistic health educator

The United States prison industry is out of control. It is a monster whose brutal ways are hidden from an unsuspecting public that pays billions of tax dollars in its "tough on crime" campaign. It is doomed to failure while conditions of inhumane torture continue in prisons, raising the threshold of violence past the breaking point.

Prisoners now outnumber the Armed Forces, and more and more youth are being incarcerated. Recidivism is on the increase as rehabilitation programs are canceled. This is The Celling of America, an inside look at the U.S. Prison Industry.

Whether you feel comfortable and secure in your life or troubled and concerned about the U.S. gulag system, this book is a must read for all Americans. The Celling of America provides disturbing and thought provoking insights to the selling of America to the Corporate Industrial/Military Complex by a right-wing controlled government policy of the 80,s and 90,s. Our country has expanded the prison industrial complex in place of school, education and civilian jobs. A further cost has been our civil rights and freedom.

". . . the war on drugs is in reality a racist war . . . to further criminalize poverty. The proliferation of drugs has hardly been stemmed, . . . evidence of the war,s failure. But the corporate ruling class looks at the boom in prison populations and considers the war a huge success."

Wall Street prison industry stocks are growing at phenomenal rates. The short term profits on millions of American,s misery will have devastating effects on our America,s future. It already has.

The book is full of shocking examples of law corruption and racism. Private industry has moved from outside to "inside" in order to exploit cheap prison labor at the tax payer,s expense. Instance after instance of inhumane treatment, inadequate and non-existent heath care are described.

The contributing writers, prisoners, a chief judge and prison reformers, have my appreciation for presenting clear, concise reporting. They are not ranting or endlessly complaining - they are simply telling the truth about the conditions in which they suffer. The Celling of America is written and presented well, with much credit due Dan Pens and Paul Wright, co-editors of Prison Legal News. PLN is an independent, uncensored publication written by prisoners that provided much of the material for this book.

My personal comments and perspective after having read this book are as follows.

The law is closing in all around us: helmet laws, seatbelt laws, drug laws, mandatory insurance laws, construction laws, food laws, medical laws; We are being suffocated and straight-jacketed by laws. Laws that restrict freedom, religious choice, happiness, and our basic constitutional and human rights. What we need is protection from the law.

The rich have it " most can buy their way out. The privileged rarely have to worry about it, at least not as long as they are in control. The rest of us need to take a solid stand" reduce the law and return the power to the people, embrace each other in love and understanding. We must call for leadership with ethics, integrity and compassion " the highest virtues.

I am left with the knowledge that if you are a minority or poor your chances of ending up incarcerated are high. I am left feeling " if you are white - you are next".

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