"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All by Sunny Schwartz

While not perfect, it is thought-provoking and a quick read

Sunny Schwartz
Sunny Schwartz is a Chicago-born lawyer who has worked in the San Francisco jail system for 30+ years. This book is a combination of a personal biography and professional recommendations for our nations over-worked, overcrowded and floundering jail and prison systems.

Schwartz is not a hand-holding, excuse-making prisoner advocate. She notes several times that she wants criminals to be punished. She notes: "I completely understand the objections and utter impatience people have with criminals. They have hurt us, our pocketbooks, our souls." (p. 197)

However, practical experience does offer some hard-won wisdom and Schwartz does have some things to suggest that might very well improve the behavior of our prisoners (remember most will become ex-prisoners some day and it would be nice if they were more in step with the rest of us). She focuses on an anti-violence program that is based on Restorative Justice, a program that's been bandied about for more than a decade. However, the team in the San Francisco jail system seem to have found something that works for some of the men and makes them less likely to return to jail due to violent crime.

This book is a quick read because it does not go into any great detail. Rather it is a general introduction to their program and how they decided to go to it. It is interesting, informative and a great place to start any serious discussion of jail and prison reform.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Dreams from the Monster Factory.

Reviewed on March 17, 2009.

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