For the second semester book club, we are reading Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, by local author Jeff Smith.
Jeff Smith broke a minor campaign finance regulation and then made a major mistake by not telling the truth to the F.B.I. The result was that he went to prison; a sentence far greater than the penalties to most others with similar offenses. Mr. Smith Goes to Prison is the fish-out-of-water story of his time in the big house; of the people he met there and the things he learned: how to escape the attentions of fellow inmate Cornbread and his friends in the Aryan Brotherhood; what constitutes a prison car and who’s allowed to ride in yours; how to bend and break the rules, whether you’re a prisoner or an officer. And throughout his sentence, the young Senator tracked the greatest crime of all: the deliberate waste of untapped human potential.
Smith saw the power of millions of inmates harnessed as a source of renewable energy for America’s prison-industrial complex, a system that aims to build better criminals instead of better citizens. In Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, he traces the cracks in America’s prison walls, exposing the shortcomings of a racially-based cycle of poverty and crime that sets inmates up to fail. Speaking from inside experience, he offers practical solutions to jailbreak the nation from the financially crushing grip of its own prisons and to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the millions living behind bars.
We have a few copies of the book we’re loaning out to students on a rotating basis and on April 28, there will be a special discussion group to talk about it.
We will even be joined by the author, Jeff Smith!!! He will answer your questions and hear your thoughts on the prison system in America.