American Prison by Shane Bauer

Staff Pick

An investigative reporter for Mother Jones, Shane Bauer engaged in undercover journalism to see the reality of a privately run facility in Louisiana. With no background checks, he was hired by Corrections Corporation of America in 2014 as a guard. Training lasted thirty days. Bauer lasted four months in the job, during which time, as he reports in American Prison (Penguin Press, $28), he was tested daily by inmates and colleagues, saw federal regulations routinely flouted, and constantly wrestled with himself over how involved to get in doing the job he was hired for. Beyond projecting strength  to avoid  being victimized, he surprised himself by how much he cared about being perceived as tough and decisive, and faced ethical dilemmas over whether to write up prisoners for minor offenses. By the third week he felt himself ineluctably affected by the culture of prison, growing angrier, more defensive, and paranoid. Like one-third of the nation’s prison guards, Bauer suffered symptoms of PTSD—a rate higher than among returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. While profit, not justice or rehabilitation, is the driving force behind today’s prisons, Bauer’s detailed history of incarceration in the U.S. shows that this is nothing new. The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery “except as punishment for a crime,” and this loophole has been taken as a license to exploit prisoners as free labor.

American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735223585
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Press - September 18th, 2018

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