Thursday, May 2, 2013

Four top books to assign to inmate-students

Joseph H. Cooper was editorial counsel at The New Yorker from 1976 to 1996. He teaches ethics and media law courses at Quinnipiac University.

He shared with the Christian Science Monitor a list of over a dozen books he considered assigning to a group of inmate-students. Great Expectations and The Executioner’s Song did not make the final cut, but the following did:
"The Green Mile"

Most of the inmate-students had heard of Stephen King and many had seen a movie based on one of his books. Although I recoil at horror stories and contrived scares, this Depression-era saga, in its way, presents the scary realities of a rush-to-judgment and death row. The similes and metaphors – along with the descriptions of “old sparky,” the exit room, and the tunnel used to take out the cadavers – gave us plenty to linger over and relish linguistically. Unlike "Rita Hayworth" and "Shawshank Redemption," whose bad guy is the abusive, despotic, and corrupt warden, the Green Mile guards (the death-row “screws”) are sensitive to the sensibilities of their charges and the sensitivities of their special tasks. Remorse and atonement become factors in the guards’ lives.
Read about the other books Cooper considered.

Also see: Six books every prison should stock.

--Marshal Zeringue