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In retirement, I've still found time to weigh in...sometimes about sports and sometimes not.

Book Review: "Free Them All" -- The Case for Abolishing Prisons

Free Them All’s analysis of the broken prison system and the obstacles facing those determined to find solutions combines scholarly discipline with a powerful, emotional appeal for justice.

Free Them All: A Feminist Call To Abolish the Prison System by Gwenola Ricordeau. Translated by Emma Ramadan & Tom Roberge. Verso, 182 pages.

Throughout her argument that prisons should be abolished, Sociologist Gwenola Ricordeau reminds the reader that “penal abolition can only be ‘unfinished.” In the epil

Book Review: "Chain-Gang All-Stars" -- A Terrifying Future World

In this novel Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah creates a terrifying future world. I’m glad that he chose to anchor that creation so powerfully in the shameful present.

is an ambitious novel by a determined author. Most novelists who want to address hideous social conditions imagine what might happen next and let the damaged characters and grim circumstances do the work. Adjei-Brenyah certainly does this. But via footnotes, he adds messages from history, contemporary and otherwise, to his tale of a worl

Book Review: "You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You're Innocent" -- Believe It

This is a well-researched and accessible account of how and how often the system locks up the wrong people and keeps them locked up.

You Might Go To Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent by Justin Brooks. 222 pages, University of California Press.

If you’re Caucasian, rich, and reasonably well-connected, you probably WON’T go to prison, even though you’re innocent. Still, Justin Brooks, the Director of the California Innocence Project has a good point as well as a provocative title for this well

Book Review: "What’s Prison For?" -- A Case for Building Trust and Mutual Respect

In this valuable and necessary book Bill Keller argues that American prisons need to accept that men and women don’t stop being human beings because they’re in the custody of the state.

What’s Prison For?: Punishment and Rehabilitation in the Age of Mass Incarceration) by Bill Keller. Columbia Global Reports, New York, 159 pages, $16.

One of Bill Keller’s informants characterizes what he terms “the cynical cycle of American justice” this way: “Sweep up young men, mostly from broken families in

Book Review: "Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison" -- Blind Justice

Daniel S. Medwed demonstrates just how astronomical the odds are against anyone who tries to question a guilty verdict, no matter how suspect the conviction.

Barred: Why the Innocent Can’t Get Out of Prison by Daniel S. Medwed. Basic Books, 321 pages.

Nearly all of Barred, Daniel S. Medwed’s exploration of the branch of the justice system responsible for providing people who’ve been unjustly incarcerated with the opportunity to seek relief, is profoundly discouraging.

Medwed, University Disti

Teaching behind bars

The competition for spots in these programs is fierce. That’s one thing the programs have in common. Another is that no bumper sticker could ever distill the importance of these programs or of the smart, supportive, and respectful students in them.

My experience with incarcerated students should have begun 30 years ago. That was when a colleague of mine at Curry College, where I taught in the English Department for almost 40 years, invited me to participate in the program he’d established for

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