Inmate: Prisons Are Places “Where Crime Does Pay”


As Michael Santos celebrated his acceptance into a long-distance doctoral program, a correctional officer overseeing the former cocaine dealer’s 20th year in prison told him he might as well tear up his college papers because his plan to write about the state of U.S. prisons had been deemed an unacceptable “security risk,” says Edward Humes in a Los Angeles Times book review. When Santos tried to show the value of his work by sending the warden a copy of his unpublished book, he was reprimanded and forced to sign a paper acknowledging that he’d been warned never to give “anything of value” to prison staffers again.

Humes calls Santos’s “Inside: Life Behind Bars in America” a “surprisingly dispassionate account of life in federal prison [that] reads more like a work of advocacy journalism than personal memoir.” Humes says Santos argues that, “Prisons have become places where crime does pay. Inmates who avail themselves of the few opportunities to reform and become productive citizens are treated as weak by predatory prisoners and with derision and hostility by many prison officials.” That leads to recidivism rates of more than 50 percent and the constant, costly growth of prisons as an industry.


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