Behind the Bars: Prison Narratives as Basis for Reform
Christ College Scholar
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.
Fredlake, Michele, "Behind the Bars: Prison Narratives as Basis for Reform" (2015). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 408.