Thursday, November 29, 2018

'Shakespeare Saved My Life' by Laura Bates

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the BardShakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Laura Bates writes about her work with the prisoners of Central Indiana, close to where I currently call home. In particular, she recounts her teacher-pupil relationship with inmate Larry Newton. With little formal education, convicted murderer Newton had a keen, insightful mind and a particular gift for relating Shakespeare to the circumstances of his fellow inmates. He might have become the first inmate to earn his Ph.D. in prison -- if the state of Indiana hadn't ended all funding for education in prison.

It's really stupid to end prison education and Shakespeare programs, by the way. They've been shown time and time again to reduce the amount of violence between inmates. America is horrible to its incarcerated persons anyway, but it's especially boneheaded to make the workplace more dangerous for prison employees as well as more dangerous for inmates themselves.

Bates writes that she is not a prison reformer, but maybe she should be. American prisons are a human rights nightmare, as Orange Is the New Black has recently shown many of us. And we should all care, because not every prisoner is incarcerated for the rest of his or her life. They'll become our neighbors, and it's always better to have an educated neighbor with insight into his or her own character and actions.

I checked this audiobook out of my local library using the Libby app. I was not obligated in any way to review it.

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