Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower
Rating *** 1/2
Much has been written about the broken criminal justice system. Our prisons are overflowing due to a laundry list of problems such as inequities in sentencing, three-strike laws, overly strict probation rules, and much more. This book looks at the correctional system from the perspective of a prison employee, a teacher.
One thing you should know at the outset is that the author met and married her husband, who was and still is an inmate in the Missouri correctional system. That story unfolds halfway in to this part memoir, part whistleblower, part revenge tale. The revenge part has to do with the author’s resignation and efforts by prison administrators to separate her and her future husband.
The early chapters come across a bit like the rants of a disgruntled employee. It’s not until the final chapters that you learn that there is a much larger picture involving corruption and mismanagement. It would have been better to frame the book with the author’s testimony before Missouri legislators. Those early chapters were like reading a script of The Real Housewives after they had been drinking all night.
The author redeems herself in the final pages, where she highlights the many problems with understaffed, underpaid, rural prisons. The truth is that somewhere along the way prisons have become a place for punishment and not rehabilitation.
This book is a valuable resource for anyone working or considering working in the penal system or for those who have an interest in what takes place behind prison walls.
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