A judge hands down a stretch in a local, state, or federal prison. It's time for some serious life lessons. With the crime rates soaring in the United States and the prison population growing faster than at any time in American history, staying alive and well -- both mentally and physically -- is tougher than ever.
In the 1960s, peace groups issued leaflets to their members on what to do if arrested during nonviolent demonstrations. Now two criminologists have come up with a guidebook on surviving the criminal justice system that is loosely modeled after these earlier leaflets. The crimes have expanded to include far more weighty ones than civil disobedience. Ross and Richards (coauthors, Convict Criminogy) offer advice on what to do if your front door is bashed in by police in a drug bust and how to avoid fatal legal mistakes. Writing in sections under topical headings, the authors follow an anonymous everyman (or woman) through an arrest, a trial, and an incarceration. The legal system they depict bears no resemblance to the one in school textbooks. It is the enemy. The authors describe different types of prisons and suggest how to deal with the correctional officers, the other inmates, and various types of discipline. Finally, they discuss making parole and returning to life on the outside. An appendix offers a glossary of prison slang and a statement about the status of prisons in America today. Overall, this is an absorbing, original book that should be required reading for criminal justice classes. Ostensibly intended for the person who is caught committing the crime, in reality Behind Bars gives the outsider an in-depth look at what it is like to be in prison in America today. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY