Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration
by Lauren-Brooke Eisen
Published: November 2017
First and foremost, Inside Private Prisons is an investigation of the benefits and downsides of privatizing the American prison system. But of course, everything is more complicated than it seems. A journey through the history of privatization goes on to explore our sordid past (and present) of prisoners as commodities, how activists use prison divestment as a tool, and the extent to which immigrant detention centers fit into the prison industrial complex. Overarching the span of the book, readers are encouraged to reflect on the nature of the carceral state: how did we get to this age of mass incarceration? How will our current political landscape shape the future?
3.5 out of 5 stars: This book was well-researched almost to a fault – just bursting at the seams with information. The overarching structure of the book sets a solid foundation for discussion, but I felt within each chapter the narrative tends to diverge wildly, leaving some anecdotes and facts a bit scattered and out of place. On the one hand, I want to casually recommend this to anyone with zero background knowledge of the United States prison system (like me!) because it such a strong collection of data and eye-opening realities*. But if I’m completely honest it was a bit of a struggle for me to get through, probably better suited as a required reading text in a college course.
* Did you know small prison towns get to headcount prisoners in the census? So even though prisoners can’t vote, they brings more political weight to the region AND bring down the mean income level qualifying the town for federal aid. What a fun new way to gerrymander over-representation for rural america!
// I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.