From Publishers Weekly
The thorny topic of rehabilitating offenders in the American penal system remains front and center in this book by Schwartz, an expert in criminal justice reform in the San Francisco area, with an able assist from TV writer and producer Boodell. Schwartz asks a central question: What do we do with the people who get out of jail and come back to communities? Using real stories of former convicts and their victims, Schwartz concludes that the horrible conditions in prisons, the monster factories of the title, create people incapable of empathy or compassion who return to society and commit more crimes. A series of family concerns thrust Schwartz into helping spearhead the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP) in San Francisco to create a prison that doesn't reinforce violence and that joins offenders and victims in a union of empowerment and accountability. Lucid, gritty and penetrating, this book is perhaps one of the most effective testaments available in the campaign to rehabilitate those we lock up and sometimes abandon. (Jan.)
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"S unny Schwartz understands accountability, kindness and forgiveness. In her brave and empowering book about people's ability to change, she tells the story of her life and her work with people who are often detested, feared or forgotten and explains how restorative justice can transform these criminals, their victims and our communities." -- Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
"Dreams from the Monster Factory
is as gritty as the halls of the San Francisco jail in which it takes place. But rather than being filled with despair and violence, Sunny Schwartz's story is marked by hope and respect. It is truly breathtaking to read about the transformation of the jails that Sunny has led. Putting the principles of restorative justice to work at ground zero of the crime culture, Sunny and her team have created a space where hardened criminals can realize their better selves and begin giving back to the community that they have heretofore only taken from." -- Pat Nolan, vice president of Prison Fellowship
" I couldn't put this book down. This is to the world of prisons and rehabilitation what Dead Man Walking is to the death penalty. It's gritty and real, simple yet revolutionary, hopeful but realistic. It isn't all happy endings, but there is vision combined with experience that suggests a way out of the morass our society is in. Dreams, yes, but not fantasies." -- Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University, and author of Changing Lenses
"A powerfully honest and revealing glimpse into a little-known world. Ms. Schwartz captivates the reader with her clear-eyed belief that even violent offenders can change. Her work shows that violent behavior is a choice and our communities can be stronger if each of us -- victims, offenders, citizens -- better understands why we act the way we do. As a survivor of violent crime, I respect Ms. Schwartz's insistence that the penal system is not working. I admire her willingness to follow her heart toward a vision that will make a difference." -- Trisha Meili, author of I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility