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Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War Paperback – December 1, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Shattered Lives argues its points poignantly and persuasively, putting a human face on the drug war better than anybody could have wished for. This is an important and timely book, and the authors deserve a lot of credit. I really do believe that if more people saw this book and spent even just ten minutes reading through it, there would be a shift in public acceptance regarding continuing the 'drug war'.

"Shattered Lives deserves to be viewed as much as read, and it is the sort of book that needs to be displayed on everybody's coffee table rather than put away on a bookshelf. Ideally, this book will get the public response it so well deserves." -- Paul Armentano, The Leaflet, Dec. 3, 1998

"Shattered Lives is a must - a wake-up call to every American. The book is beautifully designed with photographs and stories of ordinary people caught in the web of drug war excesses. Show it to people who think we need a drug war! Compare the 'crimes' with the punishments. See how freedom and justice vanish from America. For each person caught, a whole family suffers. A great gift idea." -- Clifton Thorton, Efficacy, November 1998

"Shattered Lives pages are bursting with pictures and sidebars. The designers have done a nice job. If only high schools were using it as a workbook. (A replacement for DARE, perhaps?) It was written for and in part by the poor souls devoured by the war on drugs. Many of the sidebars were written by current inmates. Their accounts and accompanying photographs are touching, to say the least.

"It dawned on me after finishing Shattered Lives that the way to end the drug war was right there in those pictures. All those families torn apart, all those innocent people steamrolled by the government. The government is creating the enemy army right now. Once enough people are victimized, it's only a matter of time before this army starts to march." -- Jonathan Ellis, Liberty magazine, February 1999

"Shattered Lives is an incredible book. I challenge anyone to read it and not be moved, both emotionally and intellectually." -- Louie Free, WASN radio personality, Youngstown OH, Dec. 13, 1998

"An everyman's edition of People magazine. Clearly written and concisely structured, the book's ten chapters rely on photographs to help tell the subjects' stories. The pictures, both color and black-and white, show warm and compassionate human faces attesting to the otherwise cold hard facts of the Drug War's inhumanity. The snapshots prove that Drug War prisoners of war belie criminal stereotypes. Sure, there are a few youthful Deadheads and dreadlocked Rastas, but suburban soccer moms, grandma and grandpa types and plenty of blue-collar workers also find themselves behind bars, mainly because of mandatory sentencing laws.

"Not only do the short profiles of each defendant keep the reader browsing along at a quick clip, humor also reiterates the human element in Shattered Lives, with section headings such as "Urine the Money," an expose of the burgeoning drug testing industry." -- Russ Tarby, Syracuse New Times, Nov. 4-11, 1998

"An intelligent and thorough new book by Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad and Virginia Resner, Shattered Lives lays it all out and provides plenty of food for thought." -- Joanne Forman, New Unionist, Minneapolis MN, Dec. 1998

From the Publisher

We have spared no expense to produce this book, which we think is one of the most important books of our era, because it dares to discuss issues that the powerful and the media have chosen to sweep under the rug. This information is shocking, but vital to every American citizen, judge, policymaker and journalist.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 118 pages
  • Publisher: Creative Xpressions.; 1 edition (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963975439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963975430
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,347,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

In addition to agreeing with most of the other reviews of this book, I think the main mission is to show this nation's harsh mandatory minimum sentencing. Also, a lot of people shown in this book are in prison solely for being associated with someone (usually a boyfriend or husband) who was dealing drugs. A lot of times, these people receive larger sentences than the leaders of the drug rings because they refuse to testify against their loved ones.
Recently, Amy Pofahl, (who is featured in this book) was granted sentence commutation by President Clinton. She had already served nearly ten years of a no-parole 24-year sentence on conspiracy charges related to her ex-husband's participation in an Ecstasy production and distribution ring. He got three years of probation in the US, but also served a four-year sentence in Germany.
Overall, this book is very important and well laid out. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is overly emotional because it's incredibly sad how our own government treats these people.
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This is by far the saddest book I own. I cannot believe that the U.S. government would allow such cruel and unusual punishments. Murderers and child Molesters don't even serve half the time as most the people in this book are or will be serving. 189 years, 8 months charged with conspiracy to transport cocaine. I'm not saying I agree with with the crime committed but I have to admit that the sentences are far from just. Non Violent Drug Offenders, Not Rapist, Not Serial Killers. 24 years charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute. Many, many more stories and lots of them are first time offenders...What kind of country are we? No wonder the UN voted us off. I just can't believe this kind of ignorance is happening right under our noses...and maximum sentencing for many convicted murders is less than 30 years for Violent crimes...does this make sense to you? Early parole for them to make room for these drug prisoners. I am appalled. The authors did an outstanding job presenting these tragic stories. Hats off to them. I will share this book with everyone I know! That is the only way to change this unrelenting system called justice! United we stand, divided we fall, and that is a bummer!The authors of this book are giving these people who are locked away a voice that will hopefully reach people like you or myself that might read this book and want to do something to help change these uncivilized laws.
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This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks that a "tough on drugs" policy is a good idea. In particular, judges, prosecutors, and potential jurors should be *required* to study this book before participating in drug cases.
The authors have done an excellent job of portraying the *human* side of this war against our own people - most of whom are otherwise law-abiding, productive citizens. The prisoners in this ill-conceived war are also for the most part loving family members, and the forced separation of children from their parents in the name of the war on drugs should be viewed as a crime against humanity.
The photos and stories of ordinary folks caught in the life-shattering juggernaut of drug prohibition are immensely potent. They do not make for a pleasant or easy read, depicting as they do the tragic story of archaic anti-drug laws wrecking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. People who - by any rational standard - do not deserve anything like the decades-long sentences so casually meted out by a system gone out of control. But concerned citizens have a responsibility to face the consequences of our failed drug policy, however painful this might be.
Please read this book if you care about fairness and humanity and how these have "gone missing" in America. You'll be amazed and appalled at just how far drug prohibition has removed us from the ideals of liberty and, especially, the right to be left alone. Perhaps more than any other single book, Shattered Lives helps us to *feel* the wrongness of our mean-spirited and futile drug prohibition policies.
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I just finished a most incredible book, Shattered Lives. It succeeds in putting a very human face on "the big ugly", the US drug war. Reading the review on this book by someone called Newtiger it became painfully obvious that this reviewer had a political agenda in trying to turn off potential readers. The power of Shattered Lives on an unbiased reader to be sickened by the actions of the government in its drug war role elicited what is likely to be Newtiger's self promoting review. It would not surprise me to learn that Newtiger is someone directly profitting by the drug war insanity ie. prosecutor, politician, prison guard,etc. Anyone who sincerely wants to understand what is happening in America should read this book- after finishing the book they might read Newtiger's review to understand spinmaster illusions.
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"Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War", is a collaborative effort by three writers: Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad, who are members of the Family Council on Drug Awareness; and Virginia Resner, member of the activist group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. These individuals joined together to write this book as a means to educate the public about the myriad of problems that the war on drugs has caused.

This book was written in a very personal way, with most of the pages dedicated to the individuals who are Prisoners of War, languishing behind bars as the result of America's unethical war on drugs. These people are not criminally- minded in any way and many of them were falsely imprisoned in the first place. But our political leaders in Washington do not seem to care at all. They continue to send non- violent individuals to prison and continue to fight the War on Drugs even though all indicators show the war was lost decades ago and can never be won.

Some of the cases depicted in this book will shock the average reader. One good example is millionaire Donald Scott, who was shot dead by U.S government drug enforcement agents after the agents received false information and proceeded to raid Scott's home without a warrant. The real motive behind this, it seems, was the seizure of Scott's property. He owned a parcel of land that the government wanted, but he refused to sell. By creating a phony drug charge, government police had an excuse to raid his home and seize his property. Of course, there were no drugs found because Scott was not a drug user at all. But government officials seized his property regardless and refused to return it, or to make any apology to the family. Yet another case of outrageousness involved Melinda George.
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