ACCOMPLICES TO THE CRIME: The Arkansas Prison Scandal by Thomas & Joe Hyams Mutton

ACCOMPLICES TO THE CRIME: The Arkansas Prison Scandal

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The discovery in late January '68 of the coffins of three murdered convicts near Arkansas' Cummins Prison Farm attracted nationwide attention, but during the year (from February '67 to March '68) in which penologist Tom Murton straggled as Superintendent in the Arkansas prison system to institute tree reform, he got little support from anywhere, and most critically, none from the office of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, who'd hired him to redeem campaign pledges of improved prisons. This is the story of Murton's confrontation with a corrupt, medieval prison farm system run by gun-carrying inmate ""trusties"" with ""kapo"" guard mentalities, and milked by civilians employing bribery and torture to make a profit through the use of what amounted to convict slavery. There was initial hope as Mutton began the forbidding task of humanizing the setup and reaching the prisoners, but progress bogged down in disappointment and frustration as he came to realize that ""reforming the prisons in Arkansas meant shaking up the whole rotten system, from Governor to the judiciary to the Arkansas housewife."" A powerful document with serious social implications.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Grove