Prisons: Inside the New America

“David Matlin's book on New York State's prison system is an American classic... Gnostic, strange, alienated, anxious, the Person in this narrative enters the Prison with no capacity to resist its reflection of the majestic power of the wilderness outside. This Person enters the prison as a teacher who only learns what he would rather not know. Abu Ghraib is discovered to be one more in a chain of imperialist warehouses for extra people. The book is one of the most excruciatingly credible responses to the new America that I have read.” -Fanny Howe, novelist and poet

“A really impressive piece of work, which captures with wrenching vividness the torture we inflict on others, and ultimately on ourselves.” -Noam Chomsky

“David Matlin's Prisons is an eloquent and powerful rumination on his experience teaching in prison. It goes beyond his personal story to put into sharp and disturbing perspective the larger problem, so cruelly handled in our society, of crime and punishment.” -Howard Zinn

"Matlin not only presents facts and statistics about the national shame that the prison system has become, but provides eye witness testimonies and anecdotes. If he were addressing an enlightened population this book would energize prison reform and galvanize a national inquiry ... It would rank with Upton Sinclair's expose of the meat packing industry." -Ishmael Reed

“There is no way to plumb the depths of degradation and despair of the hell of our current prison system, but Prisons is a brave attempt to describe the indescribable. Based on ten years’ experience teaching in prison, with a poet’s awareness of the subtleties of the English language, and with a passion of one who is consumed by the injustice of what he has seen, this book gives insight into the hearts and minds of inmates and the incredible cruelty of the system that holds them. The assumptions and expectations of state and Federal governments, and of the corporations reaping the rewards of the ‘privatization’ of the prison system, are virtually unchallenged. This is only possible in a nation that has already lost much of its sanity and is in danger of losing its soul.” -Larry Durgin, The Catskill Bruderhof

“David Matlin spent nearly a decade as a teacher in some of New York State’s toughest maximum-security penitentiaries, the experience moved him to compose this devastating essay. Matlin writes with insight and passion as he diagnoses a hideous malady plaguing America-the imprisonment boom, the warehousing of a whole generation of young African American and Latino men in our nation’s violent and retribution-oriented prisons-that threatens to destroy the very foundations of our culture.” -Richard Stratton, former Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Prison Life Magazine

“This is a serious and important book written by someone who has seen the inside up close as few have been able to do. Because of this the observations and insights revealed by David Matlin offer us serious guidelines for understanding prisons and criminal justice. For this reason this book must be read by anyone who seeks the real deal on prison life.” -Eddie Ellis, President of Community Justice Center, New York City