ALABAMA BOUND: Forty-five Years Inside A Prison System by Ray A. March

ALABAMA BOUND: Forty-five Years Inside A Prison System

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Oscar Dees, Fred Dees, Sr., and Fred Dees, Jr.--three generations of Alabama correction officials--talk about their jobs, the changes that for better or worse have overtaken them. To Oscar Dees, a 38-year veteran who remembers the strap and the bloodhounds, the newfangled idea of rehabilitation is no match for the Bible which says don't spare the rod. It was, argues the eldest and most interesting of the Dees, more productive and humane than solitary confinement which could ""hurt your health""; as he applied it, the strap could only hurt a man's pride. Both Oscar Dees and his son Fred Sr., the superintendent of a road gang, show occasional flashes of bitterness, especially toward the press (""They sing the mighty convict and look down on the guard""), but neither seems to harbor any animosity toward prisoners black or white. Fred Sr. remembers going hunting with trustees as a boy--""When my gun got heavy I let him tote it""; both men insist on fair treatment and, ironically, seem to have had closer and more affectionate relations with their prisoners than Fred Dees, Jr., the 25-year-old, college-educated probation officer (""I take the nondirective approach""). March's tape-recorded interviews retain all the colloquialisms and down-home folksiness that sometimes belie what is being discussed: Oscar's reminiscences of the electric chair are grisly, as are the accounts of prisoner fights over ""gal boys""--homosexual partners. Regrettably, March offers no critique and never steps outside the circumscribed world of the Dees except momentarily in the preface which mentions that on January 13, 1976, a US District Court judge ""declared the entire Alabama prison system to be unconstitutional.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Univ. of Alabama Press