American Prison

American Prison

A Reporter's Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment

Book - 2018
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"A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history. IIn 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an expose about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York City : Penguin Press, [2018]
ISBN: 9780735223585
Characteristics: 351 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Aug 15, 2020

The book “ American Prison” by Shane Bauer, is an excellent and thrilling book that explores parts of our nation that most of us have no idea about. The novel follows the author’s journey into becoming a security guard which is too easy of a process. During his time in as a guard, he learns many things about the prisoners, the psyche of guards, and about the American justice system in general. During this account he also details the racist and unfair history of American Prisons and the justice system. This page turning non-fiction book is excellent because it opens the readers eyes to something that they probably don’t know a lot about. The book rambles a bit towards the middle, but otherwise it is very gripping. I would rate the book 14+ since it contains some mature language and themes.

Apr 19, 2020

Bauer bolsters his account of his undercover work as a guard with chapters about the history of states using prisoners for financial gain. It’s an enlightening, sobering story, and includes a terrific bibliography.

Jun 18, 2019

I really didn't know a ton about the history of prisons and the impact of private prisons. This is a good read if you want to understand the impact of the prison system in the US and why there is a debate about privatizing prisons and what the repercussions are of privatization on inmates and society as a whole.

Mar 15, 2019

NYT 10 Best 2018

Jan 15, 2019

Bauer's reporting from his undercover job as a guard at a corporate-run, for-profit prison reveals the shocking (to me) extent of human misery, injustice, and profiteering involved in the day-to-day operations of the place. Bauer shows that basically, the prison corporation makes their profit by running a terrible prison: underpaying and understaffing guards, eliminating programs for inmates (which at the very least would give the prisoners something to do instead of antagonizing the guards), and allowing the facilities to fall into dangerous disrepair. Also includes an illuminating account of the long history of incarceration-for-profit in the U.S., particularly in the South, where prisoner leasing and later forced labor in brutal conditions on prison plantations was commonplace. Bauer's account of the debilitating effects of the guard job on his own psyche is a compelling part of the book as well. A recommended read for anyone who would like to better understand what life is like for the 2 million people currently incarcerated in the U.S., and for the people whose job it is to guard them.

Jan 05, 2019

Obama's List

Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018

Oct 31, 2018

I am impressed in many ways with this book and its author.
Bauer committed to a risky private prison job after having being held in Iran's Evin prison for 26 months. Brave! He used his investigative journalism to write and record an account of our private penal system after taking a job at Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana. Fascinating is his historical account of the development of private prisons for profit and labor use of convicts, most of whom were African American. A model of forced slavery. Real stories, real history opened my eyes to the injustice of our penal system - and so well written.


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