Voices From American Prisons: Faith, Education and Healing is a comprehensive and unique contribution to understanding the dynamics and nature of penal confinement. In this book, author Kaia Stern describes the history of punishment and prison education in the United States and proposes that specific religious and racial ideologies - notions of sin, evil and otherness - continue to shape our relationship to crime and punishment through contemporary penal policy. Inspired by people who have lived, worked, and studied in U.S. prisons, Stern invites us to rethink the current `punishment crisis' in the United States.
Based on in-depth interviews with people who were incarcerated, as well as extensive conversations with students, teachers, corrections staff, and prison administrators, the book introduces the voices of those who have participated in the few remaining post-secondary education programs that exist behind bars. Drawing on individual narrative and various modern day case examples, Stern focuses on dehumanization, resistance, and community transformation. She demonstrates how prison education is essential, can provide healing, and yet is still not enough to interrupt mass incarceration. In short, this book explores the possibility of transformation from a retributive punishment system to a system of justice.
The book's engaging, human accounts and multidisciplinary perspective will appeal to criminologists, sociologists, historians, theologians and scholars of education alike. Voices from American Prisons will also capture general readers who are interested in learning about a timely and often silenced reality of contemporary modern society.