Based on in-depth interviews with people who were incarcerated, as well as extensive conversations with students, teachers, prison staff, and administrators, the book describes the history of punishment and prison education in the United States and introduces the voices of those who have participated in the few remaining postsecondary education programs that exist behind bars. Drawing on contemporary case examples, Kaia demonstrates how prison education can provide healing and yet still not be enough to interrupt mass incarceration.
Voices from American Prisons speaks to criminologists, sociologists, historians, theologians, and scholars of education. The book’s engaging, human accounts also capture general readers who are interested in learning about an often silenced reality of modern society and who are ready to help move our retributive punishment system to a system of justice.
“In this important new book Kaia Stern takes us inside the prisons that incarcerate millions of Americans, to reveal their hardships and suffering, as well as their hopes and aspirations. By exposing us to their voices and humanizing their experience, we are reminded that mass incarceration has come at a cost, not only to those who waste away behind bars, but to those of us who sit idly by and pretend it doesn’t concern us. This book will be an invaluable resource for educators, policymakers and activists who seek to create and advocate for prisons that are humane, offer genuine opportunities for rehabilitation and provide those housed within a basis for hope.”
PEDRO A. NOGUERA
Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education
"This is a truly necessary book, a deeply challenging and insightful exploration of the religious and political belief systems that have made it possible for us, as a nation, to deny the humanity of millions and to build a massive penal system unprecedented in world history. It places the voices of those we have caged at the center and, in so doing, opens our minds and hearts to the transformative possibilities of education, faith, and community. This is a book to be read and shared, over and over again."