Thursday, June 30, 2016

Introduction: The Prison Chronicles

by G. Jack Urso

The Prison Chronicles primarily reviews a broad range of personal experiences I acquired while working in inmate higher education. The content ranges from news articles and short stories to photos, art, and poetry. It begins with an early encounter with a serial killer before I began working in prisons (Arthur John Shawcross: The Monster on Alexander Street), highlights my contact with several inmates that had an impact on my life, and confronts the many misconceptions regarding the importance of higher education to rehabilitative efforts (The Criminal Underclass and Inmate Higher Education ).

Few issues polarize people so quickly and clearly as our positions on how inmates should be treated. Many of us don’t have to look far beyond our families and friends to see the victims of crimes. Likewise, however, many of us don’t have to look far to find someone we know who has served time in jail. Justice is not always a black and white issue when the law is not fairly applied within our judicial system.

I have worked with murderers, rapists, thieves, abusers, con artists, pimps, prostitutes, baby killers, and gang members; however, I have also worked with mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, the lost and the found. If all I ever saw was the criminal then I would be denying myself the same measure of humanity I deny them, and I would be a pretty poor teacher. How we treat the least among us reflects how we regard ourselves, our society, and our hopes for the future.

The Prison Chronicles includes: