Book Reviews

Book Review: Prison Noir


The “noir” genre of literature seems to gain credence. Young people like action-packed stories, if they do read at all!

Inmates and former inmates solicited by the publisher and appropriately edited by Joyce Oates compiled this highly interesting book from short stories.

Prison noir contains 15 stories captivating stories, about American prisons, their wardens, prison guards, and how the minds of “criminals” work.

Inmates may have committed criminal acts, were, or still are violent, but possess vivid imaginations, can express themselves clearly and write about their behaviour from their point of view. They are convinced that judges, interpreting the law as it is written, have reached the wrong conclusion, but cannot overturn their sentence.

Convicts may lack funds to hire a lawyer or possess enough knowledge to explore other avenues.

The U.S.A with an estimated 330 million population or approximately five per cent of the total population of the world, makes up 25 per cent world’s inmates. The American justice system incarcerates more of its citizens than any other of the more than 200 sovereign countries.

This may be the result of laws as they are written, but also poorly educated and unemployable youth, with no opportunities to obtain work and advance, begin criminal activities to survive.

St. Kitts and Nevis, the second highest on the list of incarceration of its own population follows with less than two per cent, then followed by South Africa, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, Chin, and Canada

These stories reveal how American prisons function, the way they are administered, and the number of opportunities they provide for inmates to write, or educate themselves, how recreational drugs are smuggled in, how rules and regulations change in each state.

This book is an interesting collection of short stories put to paper by some highly educated inmates, and others insightful ones, but all are well written and highly engaging.

Highly recommended to all incarcerated and “free” people Americans and populations in other countries.

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