Prisons: Inside the New America

From Vernooykill Creek to Abu Ghraib

Written by David Matlin, Foreword by Ishmael Reed
Prisons: Inside the New America
  • Price: $14.95

  • ISBN: 978-1-55643-549-2 (1-55643-549-5)
  • Trade Paperback, 6 x 9, 168 pages
    Social Science - Penology
    North Atlantic Books

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This powerful exposè reveals how America's ailing prison system undermines the public trust. For ten years, David Matlin taught at a maximum-security prison, where he confronted daily the nature of society, crime, and violence. Based on his experiences, this book examines the history of prisons in the United States and shows the terrible price a lethal combination of degradation, abuse, and corruption inflicts on inmates and society as a whole. Matlin argues that privatization of the prison industry has led to irreversible tragedy both at home and abroad, weakening our national identity and shattering public trust in the American justice system. Engulfing and enraging, the book challenges readers to take a long look at the culture of crime and punishment.

Author Biography:

Novelist, poet, and essayist David Matlin has taught literature and creative writing at San Diego State University since 1997. His books of poetry include Fontana's Mirror, Dressed in Protective Fashion and China Beach. His first novel, How the Night is Divided, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. This book on prisons in America is based on the author's seventeen year residence in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains of New York State.


"It's a really impressive piece of work, which captures with wrenching vividness the torture we inflict on others, and ultimately on ourselves."
-Noam Chomsky

"David Matlin's Prisons is an eloquent and powerful rumination on his experience teaching in prison. It goes beyond his personal story to put into sharp and disturbing perspective the larger problem, so cruelly handled in our society, of crime and punishment."
-Howard Zinn