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Inside: Life Behind Bars in America Hardcover – August 8, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In 1987, during the height of the Reagan administration's "Just say no" campaign, 21-year-old Santos received a 45-year sentence for his involvement in the distribution of large amounts of cocaine. Now, after nearly 20 years in jail, Santos has devoted himself to making the best out of his incarceration. Having received a B.A. and M.A. from accredited universities, he spends much of his free time reading and writing about the U.S. criminal system. Here, he uses his insider perspective to provide a blunt, often disturbing look at America's prison system. More anecdotal than personal or analytical, his account illustrates the presence of gangs, drugs, prostitution and rape in prison through a series of dramatized stories. Although the dialogue is at times overwrought, the stories themselves are shocking and illuminating. Together they paint a picture of prison culture and its dehumanizing effects on the people who live within it. The book also functions beyond its role as an exposé, effectively questioning the efficacy of modern prisons. Santos rejects the idea that the "correctional system" does much correcting, and provides repeated examples of the sense of hopelessness inmates suffer during their sentences. (Aug.)
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--Edward Humes, Los Angeles Times
"Inside is actually two books. The red meat of the book is a collection of more than 100 prisoners' accounts, including every gruesome detail… But between shocking tales of inmate misbehavior are Santos' convincing theories about what it all means."
--Sean Bosker, New York Post
"Santos deserves a hearing… He provides more than just a seamy look at prison life. A chilling, timely portrayal."
--Tara McKelvey, New York Times Book Review
"Inside is not recommended for the faint at heart. Santos eloquently and engagingly captures the subculture of the prisoner. Inside is a must read."
"Michael Santos, a federal prisoner now in his eighteenth year of incarceration, has made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of life inside America's prisons."
"Michael Santos has done two remarkable things: First, he has provided to the general reading public the perspective and experience of a wide range of his fellow inmates, who rarely if ever have a public voice. The language is often crude, vulgar, and hostile; but so is the culture of which it speaks. Second, he has demonstrated the triumph of the human spirit that refuses to let past mistakes or present circumstances have the final say in defining who he is."
"Disturbing as well as uplifting, Inside sheds light on the darkest corners of the U.S. society. It should be read by all those interested in justice, punishment, and forgiveness."
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Top Customer Reviews
It helped me to see what he goes through every day. Him being in a state prison some of the stuff that happens in the Federal system does not happen in the state prisons.
If you want to understand anyone that is in the correctional system this book will give you insights to how they are treated by other inmates and the guards. This book definitely helped my friend and I grow closer.
My friend did the Straight A Guide that Michael G. Santos founded. It helped both of us tremendously from him doing the workbook.
It is a book worth reading if you know anyone in the prison system or just want to learn more about the system. I think it is a great book for even guards to read.
But set aside the juicy stuff, and too much of this book comprises Santos' windy complaints about the failings of the American prison system: its tendency to encourage recidivism rather than equip inmates with useful vocational training and education, for example, or its dehumanizing treatment of prisoners. These themes reappear again and again, and then again, and again. His points are, of course, well-taken; these arguments have been made for decades by scholars and inmates alike. They just could have been said in far fewer words. In fairness, if I were serving 45 years in federal prison, with nothing but time on my hands, my writing likely would suffer from a lack of conciseness too.