December 12, 2016

Prison to College

Larissa MacFarquhar, in the New Yorker, offers a compelling account of an unexpected phenomenon: quite a few people who have spent decades in prison for serious and violent crimes are getting out and getting into good colleges – where the excel. Unexpected sidelights abound, including the literary tastes of convicts. In California, white felons read Shakespeare – especially Julius Caesar – and the epic sagas. Black prisoners are expected to master a different literature. “Rodney Scott thought it was pretty funny that several of the books that in prison could get you thrown in solitary, because they were a sign of membership in the B.G.F.—Blood in My Eye and Soledad Brother, by George Jackson, Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice—were required reading in courses at Berkeley.”

Highly recommended.