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Going up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation
JOSEPH T. HALLINAN

Going up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation by Joseph T. Hallinan
30 reviews (2001) (288p)
ALA Notable Books - Nonfiction Finalist

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Book Description
The American prison system has grown tenfold in thirty years, while crime rates have been relatively flat: 2 million people are behind bars on any given day, more prisoners than in any other country in the world — half a million more than in Communist China, and the largest prison expansion the world has ever known. In Going Up The River, Joseph Hallinan gets to the heart of America's biggest growth industry, a self-perpetuating prison-industrial complex that has become entrenched without public awareness, much less voter consent. He answers, in an extraordinary way, the essential question: What, in human terms, is the price we pay? He has looked for answers to that question in every corner of the "prison nation," a world far off the media grid — the America of struggling towns and cities left behind by the information age and desperate for jobs and money. Hallinan shows why the more prisons we build, the more prisoners we create, placating everyone at the expense of the voiceless prisoners, who together make up one of the largest migrations in our nation's history.


From the Hardcover edition.


Amazon.com Review
Imagine a prison built "not because it was needed but because it was wanted--by politicians who thought it would bring them votes, by voters who hoped it would bring them jobs, and by a corrections establishment that no longer believed in correction." In exploring America's prison system--a system that holds more inmates than any other country in the world--Joseph Hallinan discovered that crime was big business. Further, he writes, "Few people complain. Prisons are tremendous public works projects, throwing off money as a wet dog throws off water."

In Going up the River, Hallinan comprehensively chronicles America's prisons, investigating how prison authority has passed from hard-nosed wardens to the federal court system, a change that simultaneously improved the treatment of prisoners while making inmate rehabilitation and safety more difficult to attain. He also addresses the prison boom: facilities quickly built for economic reasons, resulting in poor prison conditions and a system "so lucrative its founders have become rich men." This immense financial gain is ironically juxtaposed with the fact that most people view prisons as a terrible waste of money.

Hallinan also relays the stories of current wardens, guards, inmates, and even townspeople living in the shadow of a prison. He also focuses on the many challenges prisoners face, including gangs, fighting, and rape, as well as the sensitivity of controversial issues such as conjugal visits. The book makes obvious that America's prison system is in disarray, though neither the source nor the solution can be easily isolated. Hallinan does not offer answers or personal opinions; instead, he presents all angles and leaves the reader to consideration. --Jacque Holthusen


Joseph T. Hallinan Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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