Cover image for Mr. Smith goes to prison : what my year behind bars taught me about America's prison crisis
Title:
Mr. Smith goes to prison : what my year behind bars taught me about America's prison crisis
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2015.
ISBN:
9781250058409
Physical Description:
viii, 272 pages ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
The Missile's Already Left The Silo -- Have Some Respect, Mr. 90210! -- The Senator Be Embezzling...He A Regular Convict Now! -- Prison's Just Like The Street--With A Different Color of Chips -- This Is Jail, Not Yale -- You Best Not Go To Sleep Tonight, Cellie -- You Don't Wanna Get A Cellie With Boobs -- This Ain't T-Ball, Little Senator, We Ain't Givin' You No Tee! -- You'll Be Back, Shitbird.
Abstract:
"The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, but the landing, as Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith learned, is a hard one. In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to a seemingly minor charge of campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and one day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, but the landing, as Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith learned, is a hard one.

In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to a seemingly minor charge of campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and one day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. 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.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 2004, the author was almost elected to Congress. A few years later he became a U.S. senator from Missouri. Two years after that, in 2009, he pleaded guilty to a crime connected to his congressional campaign. Hoping for if not entirely expecting a suspended sentence, he was convicted and imprisoned for a year and a day. Behind bars, Smith, who was a driven, socially conscious man (the 2004 episode was of the one bad decision variety, not part of a criminal pattern), became deeply interested in prison reform. In this outspoken memoir, he pulls no punches, saying outright that the prison system (in fact, the justice system, in general) is deeply flawed, racially and socially unbalanced, in desperate need of not just a few tweaks but rather a serious overall. His well-reasoned book should help extend the dialogue on this important topic.--Pitt, David Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal Review

The Shawshank Redemption meets Orange Is the New Black in Smith's memoir, which enlightens readers on the particularities of America's prison system. Smith, a former senator from Missouri, recounts his year-and-one-day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice for campaign malfeasance. Mr. Smith enters FCI Manchester, a medium-security federal prison housing mainly nonviolent offenders, unprepared for life on the inside. A man of small stature, Smith quickly discovers the nuances of prison culture in order to remain unscathed but not ostracized. Candid stories shared throughout offer rare insight into a population that remains invisible: prisoners. Smith portrays himself, prison staff, and fellow inmates honestly, allowing better comprehension of socioeconomic issues plaguing America's prison system. The current congressional outcry for a more productive, cost-effective corrections system is echoed in the final chapters with corroborative data from indexed sources. VERDICT A highly readable account of prison life for those interested in social justice, prison life, prison reform, and sociocultural issues. Naomi Murakawa's The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America may be of interest for a more policy-based account of America's prisons.-Angela Forret, Clive P.L., IA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 "The Missile's Already Left the Silo"p. 5
How I Went to Prison Instead of Washington
2 "Have Some Respect, Mr. 90210!"p. 52
A Crash Course in Prison Life
3 "The Senator Be Embezzling... Hea Regular Convict Now!"p. 79
Inside the Bowels of the Prison-Industrial Complex
4 "Prison's Just Like the Street-With a Different Color Of Chips"p. 104
Hustling: The Vibrant World of Prison Entrepreneurship
5 "This Is Jail, Not Yale"p. 133
The Demise of Country Club Prisons
6 "You Best Not Go to Sleep Tonight, Cellie"p. 151
Exploring the Prison Psyche
7 "You Don't Wanna Get a Cellie With Boobs"p. 176
Sex and Intimacy in the Cell Block
8 "This Ain't T-Ball, Little Senator, We Ain't Givin' You No Tee!"p. 194
Prison Culture, Explained
9 "You'll Be Back, Shitbiro"p. 209
Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration
Epiloguep. 237
Acknowledgmentsp. 247
Notesp. 251
Indexp. 261