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Limited reading list

  • David Anderson, Sensible Justice: Alternatives to Prisons (New Press, 1998. ISBN 1565843894, 182pp). Sensible Justice explores creative solutions for the US prisons “problem”. It also makes an important contribution developing an effective national crime strategy.
  • Mary Bosworth, Engendering resistance: Agency and Power in Women's power (Ashgate Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1840147393) . This book contributes a different perspective to women's studies, criminology and prison studies.
  • David Boulton, Objection overruled (MacGibbon & Kee, 1967). An account of British conscientious objectors during WW1 and the horrific prison conditions they had to endure.
  • Rani Dhavan Shankardass, Punishment and the prison: India and international perspectives (Sage Publications, 1999. ISBN 0761993584). Connects prison practices with punishment theories in order to highlight the manner in which each society's ethos and politico-cultural traditions are reflected in the way it punishes its offenders
  • Juanita Diaz-Cotto, Gender, Ethnicity and State: Latina and Latino prison politics (SUNNY publications, 1996. ISBN 0791428168. 480pp). Examines the experiences of Latina and Latino prisoners in New York maximum security prisons, offering a realistic interpretation of the relationship that exists between prisoners, the state, and the civil society within which prisons operate.
  • Alfred Hassler, Diary of a self-made convict (Gollancz, 1955) Alfred Hassler was a key figure within the US Fellowship of Reconciliation. This book is a day-by-day account of his prison experiences during WW2.
  • Peter Kropotkin, Prisons and their moral influence on prisoners (various editions). This text was first delivered as a speech in Paris in December 1877. Many of the points he made then are still as true now.
  • Primo Levi, If this is a man (various editions). Perhaps the most famous and personal written account of concentration camp experiences. The contradictions inherent in survival combined with Levi's belief in humanity make for compelling reading.

    Jayaprakash Narayan, Prison Diary (University of Washington Press, 1979. ISBN 0295956135). More than a diary of a life in prison, it reflects on the movement for a total revolution and on developments after the introduction of the state of emergency in India by Indira Gandhi.

    Michael V Page, Prisons Race and Terrorism: Penal policy in the reduction of political violence (St Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0312216556, 224pp). A study of the role that prison can play in the reduction of terrorism, examines the experiences of three western Europe jurisdictions: Northern Ireland, Italy and the Spanish Basque Country. It looks at the role of the prisons both as tools for counter-insurgency and as part of a process of conflict resolution.

    Jim Peck, Underdogs vs Upperdog (AMP & R, 1980). The autobiography of a War Resisters League activist, who was arrested more than 50 times. There is also an account in this work of his time in prison as a conscientious objector during WW2, and how, through the efforts of COs, the US Federal prisons became desegregated.

    Leonard Peltier (edited by Harvey Arden, introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, preface by Ramsey Clark), Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance (St Martin's Press, 1999. 243 pp). Peltier invites us into his world inside Leavenworth Penitentiary, where he has been imprisoned for more than 20 years. Invoking the Sun Dance, in which pain provides access to a transcendent reality, he explores his own suffering and the insights it has brought him.

    Victor Serge, Men in Prison (various editions) This is a classic prison novel by someone who was involved in revolutionary movements during the first part of the 20th century.

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich (various editions). Just to show how bad things really can become.

Topics: Prison