Some brilliant books
CREATING CRIMINALS, Prisons and People in a Market Society
by Vivien Stern, Zed Books, 2006
"Everywhere the market society is producing more crime. More acts are being defined as crimes. More people are classified as criminals, and more are being locked up in prison. With globalization, the crime and punishment problem is no longer insulated from pressures beyond national borders. The rich may retreat behind their expensive security into gated communities, but the poor are more and more at the mercy of criminals and corrupt policing. Vivien Stern argues that the trends towards more criminalization and more imprisonment are not making for more effective crime control or safer communities. She shows how the poor are criminalized and how commercial interests now shape society‘s response to crime. She argues that the prospects for the future are serious without a new movement for reform."
A SIN AGAINST THE FUTURE, Imprisonment in the world
by Vivien Stern, Penguin Books, 1998
"Imprisonment is the almost unquestioned response to crime the world over, even though as a systematic form of punishment its history goes back over 150 years or so. Although there may be superficial differences between different countries' systems, the experience of imprisonment is universal: prisoners engender violence within themselves, prisoners revolt violently against the prison system, young prisoners who are abused are "educated" into the values of the prison world, women's problems outside prison are exacerbated by the prison environment. Unfortunately, this suffering does nothing to reduce crime. The book examines the prison experience throughout the world, considers international efforts to regulate the system, and asks whether a better answer should be found."
BRICKS OF SHAME - Britains prisons
by Vivien Stern, Penguin Books, 1987
"TODAY WE FACE A CRISIS IN BRITAIN'S PRISONS. Why do we use prison so much more than most of our European neighbours? Why are we expanding our prison system by more than a quarter when it clearly does so little good and conditions get worse year by year? Why is the prison system so difficult to change? Such crucial qustions are at the heart of this trenchant book by Vivien Stren, Director of National Association of the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) and one of Britain's leading penal reformers. It conveys in vivid detail the everyday conditions of life for the average prisoner and the prison staff, considers progressive developments in prison systems abroad and analyses the political pressures behind the dismal developments of the last twenty years. It is possible, Vivien Stern suggests, for our prisons to be safer, more humane and less overcrowded; her timely and realistic study shows the steps which need to be taken now if we are not to go into the twenty-first century with a prison system that shames us all."
FROM THE INSIDE, Dispatches from a Women’s Prison
by Ruth Wyner, Aurum Press, 2003
"In November 1999, at Cambridge Crown Court, Ruth Wyner and her co-defendant John Brock were found guilty under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Their "crime", as charity workers devoted to running the Wintercomfort hostel for Cambridge's homeless population, was in the eyes of the police to have made insufficient efforts to prevent drug dealing on the premises. Such injustice was astonishing enough, but an even greater shock was the sentence: five years, no less, and the following day Ruth Wyner found herself in Holloway Prison. "From the Inside" is Ruth Wyner's account of her time in a women's prison, first at Holloway and then at Highpoint Prison in Norfolk. She had to serve seven months before the appeal hearing that quashed her sentence - though not her conviction - by which time the "Cambridge Two" campaign had attracted high-profile support from Joan Baez to Tom Stoppard and Jo Brand. It is not only the first full account in years of what life is like in one of Britain's women's prisons - and therefore of sociological interest; it is also the frank and moving story of how one woman - even with the benefits of a loving family, education and mental stability denied to her infinitely more vulnerable fellow inmates - struggled to cope with the unhealthy, dehumanising, incessantly noisy and nerve-jangling daily life of a women's jail."
A WORLD APART, Women, Prison and Life Behind Bars
by Christina Rathbone, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2005
“'Life in a women’s prison is full of surprises,' writes Cristina Rathbone in her landmark account of life at MCI-Framingham. And so it is. After two intense court battles with prison officials, Rathbone gained unprecedented access to the otherwise invisible women of the oldest running women’s prison in America. The picture that emerges is both astounding and enraging. Women reveal the agonies of separation from family, and the prevalence of depression, and of sexual predation, and institutional malaise behind bars. But they also share their more personal hopes and concerns. There is horror in prison for sure, but Rathbone insists there is also humour and romance and downright bloody-mindedness. Getting beyond the political to the personal, A World Apart is both a triumph of empathy and a searing indictment of a system that has overlooked the plight of women in prison for far too long."
13 WOMEN, Parables from Prison
Edited by Karlene Faith with Anne Near, D&M Publishers, 2006
"13 Women conveys the personal accounts of women in prison, spanning three decades and taking place in Canada, the United States and Brazil. Most of the women in these pages, as is true for the majority of imprisoned women, were incarcerated for offences related to drugs and theft. Several were involved in violent incidents. Three of the contributorsBetty Krawczyk, Ann Hansen and Christine Lamontdid time for political activities that received international media attention. Karlene Faith’s work as a long-time prisoners’ rights activist has given her deep insight into the politics of punishment. The commentary and reflections she and co-editor Anne Near contribute to the book raise provocative questions about personal accountability, the state’s uses and abuses of power, and the broad social challenges women face."
WOMEN BEHIND BARS, The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System
by Silja J. A. Talvi, Seal Press, 2007
"More and more womenmothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters, and sistersare doing hard prison time all across the United States. Many of them are facing the prospect of years, decades, even lifetimes behind bars. Oddly, there’s been little public discussion about the dramatic increase of women in the prison system. What exactly is happening here, and why? Talvi travels across the country to weave together interviews with inmates, correctional officers, and administrators, providing readers with a glance at the impact incarceration has on our society. With a combination of compassion and critical analysis, Talvi delivers a timely, in-depth analysis of a growing and extremely complicated issue. Women Behind Bars received the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's PASS literary award for 2007 for excellence in criminal justice-related reporting. The PASS Awards (Prevention for a Safer Society) is the only national recognition of print and broadcast journalists, TV news and feature reporters, producers, and writers, and those in film and literature who try to focus America’s attention on our criminal justice system, juvenile justice system, and child welfare systems in a thoughtful and considerate manner."
Interview with Silja Talvi
RESISTANCE BEHIND BARS, The Struggle of Incarcerated Women
by Victoria Law, PM Press, 2009
"In 1974, women imprisoned at New York's maximum-security prison at Bedford Hills staged what is known as the August Rebellion. Protesting the brutal beating of a fellow prisoner, the women fought off guards, holding seven of them hostage, and took over sections of the prison. While many have heard of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, the August Rebellion remains relatively unknown even in activist circles. Resistance Behind Bars is determined to challenge and change such oversights. As it examines daily struggles against appalling prison conditions and injustices, Resistance documents both collective organizing and individual resistance among women incarcerated in the U.S. Emphasizing women's agency in resisting the conditions of their confinement through forming peer education groups, clandestinely arranging ways for children to visit mothers in distant prisons and raising public awareness about their lives, Resistance seeks to spark further discussion and research into the lives of incarcerated women and galvanize much-needed outside support for their struggles."
THE SPIRIT LEVEL - Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Allen Lane, 2009
"It may seem obvious that problems associated with relative deprivation should be more common in more unequal societies. However, if you ask people why greater equality reduces these problems, much the most common guess is that it must be because more equal societies have fewer poor people. The assumption is that greater equality helps those at the bottom. As well as being only a minor part of the proper explanation, it is an assumption which reflects our failure to recognise very important processes affecting our lives and the societies we are part of. The truth is that the vast majority of the population is harmed by greater inequality. Across whole nations, rates of mental illness are five times higher in the most unequal compared to the least unequal societies. Similarly, in more unequal societies people are five times as likely to be imprisoned, six times as likely to be clinically obese, and murder rates may be many times higher. The reason these differences are so big is, quite simply, because the effects of inequality are not confined to the least well-off: instead they affect the vast majority of the population."
by Polly Toynbee & David Walker, Granta Books, 2008
"The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. City workers earn millions. Manual workers earn less than they did thirty years ago. This title presents a worrying portrait of Britain. An urgent new polemic from one of Britain's most famous journalists, following the success of "Hard Work", which sold 33,000 copies. Toynbee and Walker present a worrying between the rich and poor widening. Their gripping investigation takes them to a Cable and Wireless AGM, a chairman of a FTSE 100 company and a council estate. This will generate huge review coverage and public debate."