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SpecTopic:Race, Crime, Justice

SpecTopic:Race, Crime, Justice - Michael Samuels Sociology...

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Michael Samuels 11/25/2007 Sociology 189 Book Review New jack The reputation of Sing Sing maximum security correctional facility outside Westchester, New York proceeds itself as one of the largest, hardnosed, well known prisons in the entire country. Sing Sing has been made famous through its notorious prisoners such as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, highlights on primetime television shows such as Law and Order, and non fiction novels such as New Jack written by Ted Conover. Conover’s research into the criminal justice system has provided profound insight about the inner workings and relationships established within a prison community. While Sing Sing isn’t the main focus of this discussion, it serves as the constant for which all information is being analyzed. Conover in his book discusses everything from his training to become a correctional officer (CO), to the communication between inmates and guards respectively while working inside, and talks about the survival skills necessary to not only run a penitentiary, but also to survive one. The factors that will be addressed include a basic summary of events, the racial dynamics of the experience, how much the tale overlaps in-class discussion, what policy changes could help alleviate problems described by Conover, and finally how well he illustrated the issues. Conover outlines these topics, and leaves the rest to be analyzed. The story begins with Conover discussing his wish to interview Prison Guards in order to truly discover what happens behind the closed walls of a state facility. After finding out that no guard, captain, or anyone for that matter would interview with him, he
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decided to get his story the only way he could: by enlisting to become a guard himself. His first step toward getting inside began with his 7 week stint in the “Academy” where he endured a pseudo military boot camp which included everything from nit picking his uniform and how he cleaned his room, to how fast he could accomplish the obstacle course. Even though many of his fellow trainees who were ex military pointed out that this “boot camp” was a joke compared to the real army, the same tactics of breaking you down and building you back up were used. The first illustration made in the story took place during the explanation of Conover’s training. He described the way he was treated and acted during training was similar to that of an inmate. The description of instruction included endless rules, non stop yelling, and menial tasks, were all similar to how convicts were treated in Prison. Conover near the middle of the book reanalyzes the similarities of his experience in the academy and inmates successfully, and he furthers this concept by telling what he saw as deficiencies in the training program including the lack of real-life communication practice with inmates.
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