LIFERS' by Richard Wormser


Learn the Truth at the Expense of Our Sorrow
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Age Range: 11 - 18
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 A hard-edged look at prison through the eyes of the Lifers' Group, men serving life sentences at the East Jersey State Prison who have dedicated themselves to reaching troubled teenagers. The lifers' brutally confrontational style is documented in a 1979 film, Scared Straight; this book is something of a follow- up, describing the prisoners' efforts to counsel and to keep in touch with young people they have met. Quoting and paraphrasing interviews with several prisoners and officials, Wormser goes on to show that lifers are not typical members of the prison population. Many take advantage of educational opportunities; they are articulate, self-motivated, and frank about their personal failings and the physical, sexual, and spiritual realities of prison life. They also find much to criticize in the American system of justice; Wormser backs up their indictment with telling barrages of statistics. The message here is not superficial: ``If you are not able to make the right choices,'' one lifer writes, ``society will make a choice for you.'' Less able readers may be unlikely to read this from cover to cover, but its many strong statements will leave even casual browsers thoughtful and better informed. The b&w photos are a bit fuzzy as reproduced, but well varied and quietly poignant-- especially the candid shots of the men with their visiting families. Bibliography; index. Nonfiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-72548-3
Page count: 206pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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