November, 2009

Twenty-Three Thanksgivings in Prison

Today begins my 23rd consecutive Thanksgiving holiday as a federal prisoner. I’ve now passed as many Thanksgiving holidays in prison as I passed as a free citizen. Prison has numbed me–I no longer experience the excitement and joy of holiday celebrations, though I know the season represents a time of significance for citizens of the […]


Last week I spoke with Bam, a prisoner and former gang member serving time at Taft Camp. Bam’s been incarcerated for six years, though his initial prison adjustment led to problems with prison officials and transfers to higher security prisons. Bam has listened to a number of my presentations at Taft Camp–I often speak to groups of […]

Intelligence Trumps Force, Professor David Kennedy Suggests

David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, uses common sense to reduce crime and keep communities safer. In the February 9, 2009 issue of Newsweek, Suzanne Smalley reported on Kennedy’s techniques and the significant drop in crime (in 2008, one Nashville community saw a 91% decrease in drug crimes and […]

Prison Administrators Should Not Discourage Successful Adjustments

Many years have passed since I read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. When I read the story, I was locked inside the impenetrable walls of the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta. I was in my early 20s then, and staring down the long end of a 45-year prison sentence. A character from […]

Breakout: Voices from Inside

WNYC Radio is partnering with PEN’s Prison Writing Program to present BREAKOUT: VOICES FROM INSIDE The event will feature luminaries from the theater and writing world, including John Turturro (Do the Right Thing), Eric Bogosian (Law and Order: Criminal Intent), Lemon Anderson (Def Jam Poetry on Broadway), and Patricia Smith, four-time winner of the National […]