Sexual and other forms of abuse in prison are common, reported by 20 percent of inmates. These “monster factories,” as the lawyer and author Sunny Schwartz calls them, do little to break the cycle of violence in society and may even accelerate it, says the New York Review of Books in a review of “Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption and One Woman’s Fight to Restore Justice to All (Scribner).
The book recounts a small experiment that took place in the San Francisco County Jail in San Bruno, Ca. This project dramatically reduced recidivism, but also helped break what the review calls “the tired stalemate between liberals and conservatives over punishment versus rehabilitation.” Schwartz’s book is revealing about the criminal mind and its thought processes, and thus contains valuable lessons for those at risk of incarceration, and for those close to them. The San Bruno experiment was a “restorative justice” program called Resolve to Stop the Violence Project, or RSVP.