Behind the Bars: Prison Narratives as Basis for Reform

Faculty Sponsor

Samuel Graber


Christ College


Christ College Scholar

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


My project focuses on the importance of first person prison narratives as a means of generating prison reform. Going to prison changes someone's life forever and oftentimes conditions in prisons are less than ideal. Many prisons suffer from problems such as overcrowding, limited funding, irresponsible leadership, and unhygienic conditions to name a few. These problems can be seen in multiple narratives from various periods, proving that they are continuing through time. Clearly, reform needs to happen but in order for it to generate enough popular support, the general public needs to be made more aware of the poor conditions of American prisons. This paper argues that prison narratives should play a larger role in this process. Through analyzing prison narratives, researching data on prisons, and examining the social and economical effects of being incarcerated, it presents these stories as essential in the prison reform process. By demonstrating the need for reform, narratives can help ensure that prisons become places of rehabilitation rather than punishment, giving inmates a better chance of moving past their criminal histories and decreasing the overall number of people who are incarcerated.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Michele Fredlake is a senior English and humanities double major who is also pursuing a Christ College Scholar degree. She is a four-year starter on the women's tennis team in both singles and doubles. Wanting to challenge the idea that prisons are a necessary evil in society, she researched the true state of America's prison system throughout history. Future goals include working in the publishing industry and furthering her education.

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