A fascinating look at the media's favorite halfway house: San Francisco's Delancey Street Foundation, where a family of 300...

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SANE ASYLUM: Inside the Delancey Street Foundation

A fascinating look at the media's favorite halfway house: San Francisco's Delancey Street Foundation, where a family of 300 ex-cons and addicts go about the grueling business of saving each other. And business it is. Members rise at 6:30 to work a day Ben Franklin would envy--at the Foundation's construction or moving company, the restaurant, the florist business, then maybe some classes, and after-dinner meetings or biweekly encounter ""games."" ""Games""--ha! Even worse are the ""dissipations"" for ""old-timers"" who can take it: 45-hour marathons where old bogies get exorcised and are hopefully replaced by feelings of affection, trust, and responsibility. Because John Maher, the tough-talking ""con"" man (in both senses) who spent ten years behind bars and more time in Synanon before founding his center, doesn't believe sociopaths are unreachable--just unreached. (See also Grover Sales' John Maher of Delancey Street, below.) This he does by a curious amalgam of the conservative work ethic, social responsibility (the Foundation does charitable work for the aged, the handicapped, and the vets), reform politics (they work for Chavez, and vice versa), and, of course, the psychotherapeutic encounters, which always include ""squares"" from the outside as well. Unlike many other halfway houses, Delancey people ""graduate"" after two years--though why they should ever want to leave their deluxe pads on Pacific Heights, or the pool in their Sausalito apartment house, is another question. The author is an English sociologist of impeccable credentials (Cambridge, Harvard); he spent a year being favorably impressed by the Foundation, and so should any reader of this provocative book.

Pub Date: March 24, 1976

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: San Francisco Book Co.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976