Prison: Listening List
November 8th is quickly approaching and there is much to talk about regarding the election and politics. But, how about this: let’s not. This election has caused me such anxiety (and sometimes rage) and I just can’t stomach the idea of corrupting my podcast listening me-time by knowingly assaulting my own ears with any more about it. So, let’s make November opposite month for PBC. Here’s the algebra I did to come up with the theme of PRISON :
elections = freedom
freedom ≠ x
x = prison
Also, regardless of your political leanings, you probably think at least one of the candidates for the U.S. presidency belongs in prison. So, let’s go to prison with our ears!
Here is the shortlist, but you all sent me a crazy long list of recommendations. So, if you want to dive deep into prison, check out the complete list below.
Listen to these 3 episodes about prison
- Life of the Law – Episode 73: A Whole ‘Nother World: Live at San Quentin. Live storytelling at San Quentin prison. From the sound of it, if you have to be in prison, SQ is a great place to be with some creative programming and surprisingly thoughtful inmates. After hearing these touching stories, I decided to look up SQ prison and was surprised to find that there is a Yelp page for the prison! It has 48 reviews and comes in at 3 full stars. Not sure what to make of that considering I’ve stayed at hotels that have gotten fewer stars than that. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Reveal – [Update] The Man Inside: Four Months as a Prison Guard. In this exposé, a journalist goes undercover and gets a job as a guard inside a private federal prison. What is revealed is fascinating and terrifying. I had moments of pure empathetic anxiety. Shortly after the episode dropped, the Justice Department announced that they would no longer contract with private prisons. This episode was recommended by SO MANY people in the PBC community (thanks to Sara from Audible Feast, @kjs_37, @jd_sutter, Drew from PBC-CHI, and Kevin and Christa who work at Reveal.
- Here Be Monsters – HBM019: The Other One Percent. In 2008, Pete Brook started the Prison Photography blog to explore images of prisoners and prisons. Then, in 2011, he traveled across the U.S. visiting prisons, interviewing criminologists, photographers, and inmates. In this interview, Pete tells us about his experiences and thoughts on the prison system in the U.S. Recommended by Galen from PBC-BOS.
- Did the stories from Life of the Law – A Whole ‘Nother World: Live at San Quentin make you feel all warm and gooey or did they get you wondering about your tax dollars?
- Did you know that private prisons existed before hearing Reveal – The Man Inside? How do you feel about the use of private prisons?
- In Here Be Monsters – The Other One Percent, Pete Brook says that the U.S. should be treating drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a crime. Do you agree?
- Should prisons be punitive or rehabilitative?
- What exactly does it mean to be rehabilitated?
- How much does incarceration have to do with justice for the victim?
- Do you think a murderer can be rehabilitated? If so, should a rehabilitated murderer be set free?
- How much do you think the threat of prison is a deterrent to crime?
- Should a 16 year old who commits murder be tried as an adult? Should they be given life sentences?
- What are your thoughts on mandatory minimums?
- Criminal – Episode 27: No Place Like Home. The conversion of the last standing leper (Hansen’s disease) colony in the continental U.S. into a minimum security prison in Louisiana. White collar criminals and patients live side-by-side. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Criminal – Episode 45: Just Mercy. The story of a lawyer spending his career working to get people off death row. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Criminal – Episode 49: The Editor. The story of a man who learns to read in prison resulting in the least likely job you could ever imagine. Recommended by @kpfunkenstein who said, “This one gave me all the feels.” I agree…great episode!
- Criminal – Episode 58: Walnut Grove. A glimpse into a privately-operated youth prison and the town it occupied. Until it didn’t anymore.
- Death, Sex & Money – I Killed Someone. Now I Have 3 Kids. An intimate discussion with an inmate at Sing Sing prison about his crime, what he learned, his family, and his plans. Recommended by Erik from Hurt Your Brain and Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Everything is Stories – 018 These Executions. A story of public relations and lethal injection. Recommended by Sara from Audible Feast.
- Life of the Law – Episode 46: One Conjugal Visit. This is the story of one couple and the 48-hour conjugal visit they share once a month inside San Quentin State Prison. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Life of the Law – Episode 33: The Hardest Time: Moms in Prison. In California, non-profit organizations, volunteers and the prison system work together to bring the children of incarcerated mothers to the prisons throughout the month of May so they can spend one day celebrating motherhood. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Life of the Law – Episode 23: Prison and Pregnancy. Four percent of women prisoners enter prison pregnant – that results in thousands of babies born in the correctional system each year. But as far as what to do with these babies, or their mothers, the US lacks any national policy. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Lore – Episode 42: In the Bag. We hate losing control. And no place on earth represents that sensation more viscerally than prison. Contrary to popular belief, though, not all prisons have been created equal. Recommended by Adela.
- Modern Love – “Kept Together by the Bars Between Us.” Actress Cherry Jones (“Transparent,” “Doubt”) reads the essay “Kept Together by the Bars Between Us,” about a marriage that is buttressed by a husband’s prison sentence. Recommended by Erin from PBC-CHI.
- Planet Money – Episode 610: The Prisoner’s Solution. A businessman goes to prison, and decides he is going to disrupt the biggest captive market in America. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Reply All – #64 On the Inside. For years, Paul Modrowski has been writing a blog from inside a maximum security prison. Only thing is, he was arrested when he was 18 and has never seen the internet. Recommended by @kjs_37, Ellen from PBC-CHI, and Erik from Hurt Your Brain.
- Re:Sound from Third Coast – Special Feature: Envision Yourself Being a Free Man. Audio postcards to an inmate in the Red Onion State Prison from his family. Recommended by Adela.
- State of the Re:Union – American Justice. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- Reveal – Sick on the Inside: Behind Bars in Immigrant-Only Prisons. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- The U.S. Prison System in Five Parts: Stories from the Most Incarcerated Nation. This is an article with podcast episode recommendations from Galen of the Bello Collective (and member of PBC-BOS).
- This American Life – 119: Lockup. With the number of prisoners in the United States rising rapidly, This American Life presents stories of their lives and the lives of their families and children.Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- This American Life – 218: Act V. Over the course of six months, reporter and This American Life contributor Jack Hitt followed a group of inmates at a high-security prison as they rehearsed and staged a production of the last act—Act V—of Hamlet. Recommended by Andrea from the FB group.
- Unprisoned – This Louisiana mother waits, and paints, and strives to free her son. What do you do when a member of your family is locked up for a crime you are sure he didn’t commit? Sheila Phipps paints. Recommended by Sara from Audible Feast.
- Untold – The Prison Wedding. The story of a white-collar-criminal’s pregnant fiancée, trying to organize their prison wedding. Recommended by Adela.
- 99% Invisible – Episode 80: An Architect’s Code. A group called Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) has taken the stance that there are some buildings that just should not have been built. Buildings that, by design, violate standards of human rights. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- 99% Invisible – Episode 214: Loud and Clear. The United States prison system has the largest prison population in the world and many of its inmates listen to their music on cassette tape. For this group, cassettes aren’t necessarily the cheapest or hippest way to listen to music; in some cases, it’s the only way. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.
- 99% Invisible – Episode 26: The MCC: Chicago’s Jailhouse Skyscraper. The Metropolitan Correctional Center, or MCC, is a federal jail right in the middle of downtown Chicago. It’s a triangle-shaped skyscraper, 27 stories, with tall, super-narrow, irregularly-spaced windows up and down each wall. The outside walls look like old computer punchcards. As odd as it looks, each of these striking details serve a purpose. Recommended by Aesha from PBC-CHI.