Author to Present 'Essays From the Prison in America'

Gather all of America’s inmates together, and their population would equal the country’s fourth-largest city. Doran Larson has assembled the largest collection of essays by people in American prisons, in order to depict the problems of the corrections system and the effects on those imprisoned.

Larson, professor of English and creative writing at Hamilton College, will speak at New College of Florida at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, in the Chae Auditorium of Heiser Natural Sciences Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

He is the editor of “Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America,” which includes 71 essays from prisoners in 27 states, representing the breadth of experiences from the nearly 2.3 million incarcerated in America.

The book is published by Michigan University Press, which describes it as follows:


In essays as moving as they are eloquent, the authors speak out against a national prison complex that fails so badly at the task of rehabilitation that 60 percent of the 650,000 Americans released each year return to prison. These essays document the authors’ efforts at self-help, the institutional resistance such efforts meet at nearly every turn, and the impact, in money and lives, that this resistance has on the public.

Directly confronting the images of prisons and prisoners manufactured by popular media, so-called reality TV, and for-profit local and national news sources, Fourth City recognizes American prisoners as our primary, frontline witnesses to the dysfunction of the largest prison system on earth.

Library Journal said the book “should be mandatory reading by anyone involved in criminal justice.”

Larson also is the founder of The Attica Writer’s Workshop and the “Attica-Genesee Teaching Project,” which began delivering college-credit courses inside Attica in January 2011.