Robert Johnson and Hans Toch's Crime and Punishment: Inside Views is an edited volume of original essays written by offenders "in their own words." The book provides a unique, inside view of crime, prisoners, and the experience of punishment.
These essays represent the worldviews of 52 offenders, introducing the reader to the forces that shaped their lives and compelled them to commit crimes, their struggles with their own feelings, and their experiencesoften rockywith prison life and the criminal justice system.
Crime and Punishment: Inside Views is useful as a supplement for courses in criminal justice, corrections, and criminology. It illuminates a wide array of individuals, settings, and issues, offering a stimulating introduction to the study of crime and punishment. These writings will sharpen student's critical thinking skills as they compare and judge these offenders' own words against the context of their textbooks. Editors Johnson and Toch's insightful introductions and commentaries at the beginning of each section and each essay serve as a useful "road map," framing the various writings and putting them into perspective.
Two criminology professors have allowed several dozen inmates at correctional facilities across the country to vent their feelings about their crimes and subsequent punishment. Although the inmates' writing style is mediocre, their extensive autobiographical writing may make the book appealing to readers who are curious about life on the inside or who have never read Jack Henry Abbott's In the Belly of the Beast (LJ 6/1/81). Each section is interspersed with unfortunately disappointing commentary by Johnson (American Univ.) and Toch (SUNY at Albany). They talk about the connection between poverty and crime, the racial imbalance of the inmates, and the lust for vengeance, but their observations, though valid, have been made before. This book would have been more timely had the editors focused on the trend toward longer sentences, the virtual end of the parole system, or the number of men and women on death row in this country. Recommended only for large crime collections.--Frances O. Sandiford, Green Haven Correction. Facility Lib., Stormville, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.