Review: 23/7: Pelican Bay and the Rise of Long-term Solitary Confinement- Keramet Reiter

Title: 23/7: Pelican Bay and the Rise of Long-term Solitary Confinement

Author: Keramet Reiter

Publisher: Yale University Press

Pages: 312

Rating: 3/5

I REALLY wanted to like this book, but it lacked a lot of content. Even though it gave you some background on how Pelican Bay and the SHU came about, I just felt it was too statistically out there. The author focused mainly on two individuals. While it gave you a little glimpse on the inside of what these prisoners have endured, I still wish she would’ve used more inmates’ personal experiences. This book does give you some great research ideas and does give you an idea of the life of a prisoner, but I wanted more. 

If you do want to read about Solitary Confinement and some perspectives from a few inmates, check out:

Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices of Solitary Confinement- Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd (no endorsement for this book)
I really feel like you get that more personal, in-depth look you want in the life of a solitary confinement prisoner. 

I really wanted to write more in this review, but there’s only so much you can write about something you didn’t really enjoy.

Review: Hell is a Very Small Place- Jean Casella

Title: Hell is a Very Small Place

Author: Jean Casella/ James Ridgeway/Sarah Shourd

Publisher: The New Press

Pages: 228

Rating: 5/5

Imagine living in a 4 1/2 x 9feet cold, musty, dark, and depressing box, sometimes for days at a time, week, months, years, hell even decades. Hell is a very small place is a collection of essays of people who have lived through this turmoil for years and even decades, some even from the moment they stepped into prison. These prisoners do not have communication with anyone (except those that work in the prison), they sometimes don’t have a window and if they do all you see is concrete. That’s when the prisoners start falling into a dark abyss, they start going crazy, and hearing the yelling and cries from the other inmates doesn’t make it any easier.

I absolutely loved this book. I think sometimes it’s a good thing to listen to what inmates have to say, sometimes they actually want to rehabilitate themselves and change, but the way the system is set up it’s impossible for them at times. Now I believe if someone did something heinous they should be punished and do the time they are given, but also some of the conditions they have prisoners is deplorable too. I don’t want to talk much about the subject, because it’s a pretty controversial topic, but I truly recommend people to read it and get an idea of what these people suffer after years of being locked away like an animal (some don’t even get treated like that). Please open your mind and give it a try.

Original Review Published: 8/15/2016