IMPRISONED IN AMERICA: Communications from Prison 1776-1972 by Cynthia Owen -- Ed. Philip

IMPRISONED IN AMERICA: Communications from Prison 1776-1972

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Philip intends to provide an historical mural of prison conditions and their effects from the beginning of the nation to the present time out of the mouths of inmates themselves -- mainly letters to friends and relatives or public officials, almost one hundred documents altogether. Beginning with Revolutionary War prisoner Jonathan Gillet's woeful missive (""a people called heshens. . . abused me by brusing my flesh with the buts of there guns"") and concluding with Attica rioter Edward Young's statement to an investigating commission (""They expect us to be every day the same""), the editor manages to show what we suspected at the outset: prison life hasn't changed much over the centuries -- regimentation, censorship, alienation, brutality, homosexuality, atrophy are the constants. So, mingled among this diverse correspondence (Nat Turner, Boss Tweed, Debs, Sacco & Vanzetti, Caryl Chessman, Alger Hiss, David Dellinger, George Jackson, and many lesser cons) is an implicit plea for prison reform. The presentation is unique; the message is old.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row