American Prison by Shane Bauer tells the story of a journalist who worked undercover in a private prison.
Shane Bauer, who was held as a prisoner in Iran, went undercover as a corrections officer for nine dollars an hour at a private prison in Winfield, Louisiana. The prison was run by a corporation then known as Corrections Corporation of America.
In American prison, Bauer does a masterful job of showing what life inside is like for the prisoners and the officers. The way he compares conditions at the private prison with those of the prison he was held at in Iran is interesting. His explanations of the history of private prisons in America is educational and upsetting.
American Prison is sometimes a difficult read; it forces us to confront how little some people care for human life. It makes us consider the reality that corporate profits and state budgets regularly matter more than decency. It doesn’t let us forget how stupid our way of incarcerating people is and how it hasn’t changed enough. And, of course, it reminds us of exactly how often racism is a factor when people are abused.
American prison should be read by anyone who wants a deeper understanding of America.