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American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover…
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American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of… (2018)

by Shane Bauer

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Shane Bauer went undercover as a prison guard at a corporate-owned prison. His book is more than just a horrifying, eye-opening account of what he saw and experienced, it is also a horrifying, eye-opening account of the history of convict labor and how the prison system became a way of perpetuating slavery and white dominance throughout the former Confederacy. Without ever mentioning reparations, it makes a convincing case for reparations to make restitution to African-Americans. Not a pleasant book for anyone to read, but a necessary one. ( )
  nmele | May 31, 2019 |
Oh this one was eye-opening - and so very, very disturbing. Bauer used his own name when applying. If the references were checked they would have realized he was a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Bauer lasted four months, recording conversations and taking photos surreptitiously. What goes on inside the walls of this for profit prison is simply outrageous and egregious. Rehabilitation? That's a joke. People die in these places. The treatment of ill inmates was sickening. Bauer weaves the history of prisons in the south in his narrative. And that explained a lot. Using prisoners for profit is not a new idea. Hard to read, but this needs to be known by the public. An excellent exposé ( )
  Twink | May 29, 2019 |
“The United States imprisons a higher portion of its population than any country in the world. In 2017 we had 2.2 million people in prisons and jails, a 500 percent increase over the last forty years. We now have almost 5 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its prisoners.”

“We have about eighty thousand people in solitary confinement in this country, more than anywhere in the world.”

The author, a journalist, worked as a prison guard for four months, at a private prison, in Louisana. His horrifying discoveries, are the basis of this hard-hitting expose. He weaves his experiences, in with the history of the American prison system and both are equally disturbing. I think this a must read. No matter what administration or party is in power, this American tragedy is always over-looked and under-reported.
This needs to be reformed, immediately. ( )
  msf59 | Apr 28, 2019 |
The author is an investigative reporter who spends four months working in a private prison in Louisiana belonging to CCA (now CoreCivic). He records his experiences there and checks what he saw with what was officially reported in CCA's records. Needless to say, there are many discrepancies. His reports on the economics of the prison make it clear that CCA's profit comes from paying prison guards no more than they would make at the local fast food joint and by short-changing prisoners on medical care, recreation, and education.

He intersperses the reports of his experiences with a history of the prison for profit industry. Most disturbing are his reports of the death rates of prisoners worked to death under appalling conditions. Prisoners in the US were dying at a rate comparable to the number of deaths in the Soviet gulag.

This is the most disturbing book I have read in years and it is one that is sure to make you angry. ( )
  M_Clark | Feb 8, 2019 |
Really wanted to like it. Had it as a key item on my wish list. Read it as soon as I got it. But it never gripped me. Also wasn't what I expected. Author gave some great detailed info on the history of prisons and forced labor. Much of which i was not aware of. Found the evolution (which is an odd way to say it) from the slave trade to the prison trade to be quite interesting. In short though, could have been a long form magazine article. Never got into what he experienced inside the prison beyond: Sucky job, pays poorly, all profit driven, ( )
  bermandog | Jan 27, 2019 |
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We all want to believe in our inner power, our sense of personal agency, to resist external situational forces of the kinds operating in this Stanford Prison Experiment. . . . For many, that belief of personal power to resist powerful situational and systemic forces is little more than a reassuring illusion of invulnerability.

—Philip Zimbardo
You just sell it like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.

—Corrections Corporation of America cofounder Thomas Beasley
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"A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history. In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an expose about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still. The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone. A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America"--"A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history. IIn 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an expose about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still"--… (more)

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