Unlike Merklin (see above) Morris was not an outsider doing voluntary duty in prison but an inmate sent up not once but several times -- he spent 22 of his first 40 years inside institutions, beginning in that long ago time when he was a child shuttled from the Children's Shelter to a series of uncaring foster homes and back to his mother, a wretched alcoholic. From there he made the rounds of the New York penal system: Elmira for youthful offenders, Riker's Island, The Tombs, Coxsackie, Matteawan for the criminally insane. Life consisted of strip cells, blackjacks, bread and water, segregation, physical and mental abuse and fantasies of revenge -- until the scared and lonely kid he once was had become a highly accomplished and hardened criminal addicted to theft and armed robbery, unable to even envision a different kind of life and the more dangerous because he didn't give a damn if he lived or died. Morris' narrative is crude, bitter, inescapably monotonous -- the impoverished writing style reflecting his arid, stunted existence in that brutalizing environment. With the help of the Fortune Society, Morris, by the book's end, is determined to ""go straight."" You hope that after all those years of deprivation and degradation he has the emotional and psychological resources to succeed.