Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

   


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Behind Bars Surviving Prison

(Alpha Books ISBN 0-02-864351-8)

Jeffrey Ian Ross (University of Baltimore) and Stephen C. Richards (Northern Kentucky University) Richards is a former federal prisoner having served 11 years, including time in USP Atlanta, USP Terre Haute, USP Marion, and USP Leavenworth. Both Ross and Richards are FedCURE members.

       Ross and Richards are both veteran criminologists who have published extensively on crime and prisons. Clearly, they have the experience to back up what they write: Ross worked almost four years inside a correctional institution, and Richards spent 11 years as a federal inmate. They tell it like it is, the “low-down and dirty” of what a person can expect if they go to jail or prison. Their information comes from first-hand experiences and from conversations with convicts.

       Behind Bars answers questions frequently asked by first-time convicts, such as “Will I be assaulted or raped in the first 24 hours on the inside? (Maybe, so be ready to defend yourself.) What will happen to my family and friends once I am incarcerated? (If it’s a long sentence, there’s a good chance they’ll move on with their lives and forget about you.) What are the long-term effects of being in prison? (Depends on the individual, but statistics aren’t very encouraging.) Will I be able to secure a good job after I am released? (Your chances are better if you get, or at least start working on, a college degree.)

       The number of people being incarcerated at state and federal facilities continues to grow at an alarming rate. The most recent official estimate of persons in correctional custody (DOJ Statistics, 2001), serving time in jail, prison, or on probation or parole, is 6.47 million with 3.8 million on probation, and 725,527 on parole.

       Contrary to popular belief, most people in jail and prison are not your typical “career criminals,” such as band robbers, counterfeiters, and mafia hit men. Instead, the vast majority of the prison population is made up of young, nonviolent and first-time offenders. Over 90 percent of prisoners are male. About half of all prisoners are African-American, 20 percent Hispanic, and the rest mostly English-speaking Caucasians. Additionally, there is a growing number of special-needs prisoners (mentally ill, mentally retarded, medical, elderly) serving time in prisons and community corrections facilities who are controlled with medication (chemical restraint).

       Admittedly, the entire book might not apply to every prisoner in every prison in the U.S. , but the topics covered are chillingly familiar to those of us who’ve already experienced ClubFed. While the book was written primarily for men, there is one chapter that addresses the unique issues faced by women in prison. Behind Bars is not a generic version of the BOP’s program statements. The information contained in it, however, could very well preserve both your life and your sanity if you are heading to prison. Order now from www.barnesandnoble.com