John Irwin writes about prisons from an unusual academic perspective. Before receiving a Ph.D. in sociology, he served five years in a California state penitentiary for armed robbery. This is his sixth book on imprisonment an ethnography of prisoners who have served more than twenty years in a California correctional institution. The purpose of the book is to take issue with the conventional wisdom on homicide, society’s purposes of imprisonment, and offenders’ reformability. Through the lifers’ stories, he reveals what happens to prisoners serving very long sentences in correctional facilities and what this should tell us about effective sentencing policy.