Books, Reports, Documentaries

(presented alphabetically by author)

****Recommended:  The New Yorker review by Adam Gopnik of John Pfaff’s  2017 book Locked In provides a summary of some dominant arguments about the causes of mass incarceration and a perspective on actions that can be taken.  A core point of the book – and the review – is to caution that we invest effort in defining a reasonably accurate model for understanding the problem so effective work can be done to define and enact solutions.***

The New Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, 2010.  Review from Kirkus Reviews.  Available at WLS.

See also: A number of summaries are available online; here’s an example.  Below is a Bill Moyers interview with Ms. Alexander which reviews the themes and impact of her book (2013)


Mothers of Bedford,  Jenifer McShane, 2011.  Explores the effects of a long-term prison sentence on the mother-child relationship.  Review posted to   Trailer.  DVD is available at WLS.

Public Safety Performance Project, Pew Charitable Trusts.  Regularly publishes data and analysis on trends in America’s prison population and strategies states can pursue to “that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.”  Illustrative reports:  State of Recidivism: the revolving door or America’s prisons (2011), One in 31: the long reach of American corrections (2009)

Locked In : the true causes of mass incarceration–and how to achieve real reform,  John F. Pfaff, 2017.  Review from The New Yorker.  Available at WLS.

See also: Book Talk with John Pfaff, author of Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration (2017)

Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption, Bryan Stevenson, 2014. Review from the Washington Post.  Available at WLS.

See also:Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Mr. Stevenson and the 2016 talk by Mr. Stevenson that builds on themes from his book.

Innocence Is Irrelevant: This is the age of the plea bargain—and millions of Americans are suffering the consequences“,  Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic, September 2017.

See also: The Atlantic’s full series of articles – The Presence of Justice.