Schwartz, Sunny, and David Boodell. Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All. New York: Scribner, 2009. Print.
It only took me only a day to read this powerful book. Sunny Schwartz writes of her personal experiences working in the San Francisco penal system. She began as a legal intern who helped fill out paperwork for prisoners' complaints. She later created a new version of prison life called RSVP (Resolve to Stop the Violence Project).
She is honest about the realities of prison life.
What she writes makes sense to me. Why do we, as taxpayers, spend so much money to incarcerate people just to give them time in jail to stew and only to release them to continue the patterns of crime? Why aren't we trying to really make sure criminals are given the skills and systems to guide them to become more productive citizens upon release? Why aren't we trying to make better people of them even if they won't ever leave jail?
As I read, I kept thinking about my students. Did I do everything I could in my classroom to help them become good citizens of my community? Once they were "released" from my care, did they go away as a better person or did they just let old habits continue?
As a librarian, do I want to have this book available? If a teen reads this, will it make a difference in his or her actions and behavior?
This book has made me think about myself and my attitudes and my assumptions. Sometimes we must keep trying even when the situation seems hopeless.