GO TO JAIL! A Look at Prisons Through the Ages by Peter Kent

GO TO JAIL! A Look at Prisons Through the Ages

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Kent's handsomely drawn book introduces prisons of every crank and radius: prisons without walls (Devil's Island, Siberia); prisons little but walls (the Bastille, the Tower of London); prisons for the most notorious criminals (Alcatraz); prisons for folks who had committed no crime, other than being on the wrong side (prisoner-of-war camps, e.g., Stalag Luft III); and oddball prisons (a hole in the ground, a hollow tree). For the 18 prisons covered, the illustrations are mostly cheerful, as is the text, taking the sting out of what must be a most intensely unpleasant experience; even those being tortured provoke little horror or disgust (though the figures, which are Waldo-like small and swarming, can't convey much emotion). Jailers earn the adjectives lazy, inefficient, brutal, and nasty, while prisoners are almost always viewed as victims of filth and overcrowding who were often lonely. To further temper the subject, Kent has made a game of the book: readers are urged to ferret out particular rogues and prison types, as well as pet animals (such as cockroaches) in each setting. It's odd and fascinating material, if a bit antiseptic.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Millbrook