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Prisons & Prisoners

Selected Books

America's Prisons (Opposing Viewpoints)
HV9471.A487 2010
Opposing views are presented on topics of violence, drugs, privatization of prisons, etc.
Cox, Stephen
The Big House: Image and Reality of the American Prison
HV9469.C694 2009
A detailed and vivid historical study of American penal institutions and their evolution from the "Big House" like Alcatraz, to smaller prisons where the emphasis is on rehabilitation.
Edge, Laura Bufano
Locked Up: A History of the U.S. Prison System
HV9466.E34 2009
A history of the United States prison system, evolving attitudes in punishment techniques and rehabilitation efforts as the government works to protect citizens and punish wrongdoers.
Gottschalk, Marie
The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America
HV9471.G67 2006
The United States has built a carceral state that is unprecedented among Western countries and in US history. Nearly one in 50 people, excluding children and the elderly, is incarcerated today, a rate unsurpassed anywhere else in the world.
Perkinson, Robert
Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire
HV9475.T4 P47 2010
"A pioneer in criminal justice severity -- from assembly-line executions to supermax isolation, from mandatory sentencing to prison privatization -- Texas is the most locked-down state in the most incarcerated country in the world. Texas Tough,a sweeping history of American imprisonment from the days of slavery to the present, explains how a plantation-based penal system once dismissed as barbaric became a template for the nation."
Price, Byron Eugene
Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?
HV9469.P745 2006
Beginning in the mid 1980s, the privatization of jails and prisons burgeoned in the United States. Yet, prison privatization continues to be one of the most controversial issues in public policy. Although sold to the public as a cost-saving measure, the privatization of prisons has not only led to significant changes in policy making and the management of prisons, but has also generated widespread concern that incarceration has become a profit-making industry.
Prisons (Current Controversies)
HV9471.P7822 2010x
Covers issues such as "Are Too Many People Being Sent to Prison?", "Are Inmates’ Constitutional Rights Disregarded in American Prisons?", "What Can Be Done About Prison Overcrowding?", "How Are Recent Trends Affecting Prisons?".
Ratner, Michael
America's Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees, and the War on Terror
HV9471.A484 2005
America's Disappeared deals with the constitutionality of the abuses following September 11, 2001: racial profiling, detentions and deportations by the United States government.
Schwartz, Sunny
Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All
HV9306.S27 S38 2009
Dreams from the Monster Factory presents an intimate, harrowing, and revelatory chronicle of how one woman with a profound belief in people's ability to change is transforming the San Francisco jails -- the monster factories -- and the criminals incarcerated there. Read a review in the New York Review of Books.
Shalev, Sharon
Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement
HV9469.S52 2009
This book examines the rise and proliferation of 'Supermaxes', large prisons dedicated to holding prisoners in prolonged and strict solitary confinement, in the United States since the late 1980s. It asks why a form of confinement which had been discredited in the past is now proposed as the best solution for dealing with 'difficult', 'dangerous' or 'disruptive' prisoners, and assesses the true costs of Supermax confinement.

Web Sites

  • 360degrees: Perspectives on the American Criminal Justice System
    First-person stories of inmates, corrections officers, victims of crime, judges and others.
  • American Civil Liberties Union: Prisoner's Rights
    The ACLU National Prison Project is dedicated to ensuring that our nation’s prisons, jails, and other places of detention comply with the Constitution, domestic law, and international human rights principles and to ending the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.
  • American Correctional Association
    Represents professionals from all facets of corrections & criminal justice, including federal, state and military correctional facilities.
  • Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
    A private non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce society's reliance on the use of incarceration as a solution to social problems.
  • Correctional Education Association
    A non-profit, professional association serving educators and administrators who provide services to students in correctional settings.
  • The Crime Report
    A news service covering criminal justice that is published daily by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
  • Death Penalty Curricula for High School
    This site is designed to assist both teachers and students in an exploration of capital punishment, presenting arguments for and against its use, as well as issues of ethics and justice that surround it.
  • National Reentry Resource Center
    The National Reentry Resource Center provides education, training, and technical assistance to states, tribes, territories, local governments, service providers, non-profit organizations and corrections institutions working on prisoner reentry.
  • Pew Public Safety
    The Public Safety Performance Project seeks to help states advance fiscally sound, data-driven policies and practices in sentencing and corrections that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.
  • Prison Fellowship Ministries
    Prison Fellowship is a Christian ministry responding to the needs of prisoners, ex-prisoners, victims and those affected by crime.
  • The Sentencing Project
    An independent source of criminal justice policy analysis, data and program information for the public and policy-makers.
    UNICOR is the trade name for Federal Prison Industries, Inc., a self-sustaining enterprise, that sells services products made by inmates of federal prisons.
  • US Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Prisons
    The Federal prison system is a nationwide system of prisons (118 institutions) and detention facilities for the incarceration of inmates who have been sentenced to imprisonment for Federal crimes and the detention of individuals awaiting trial in Federal court. The federal prison population was 218,541 on September 29, 2012, 47.7% were there for drug offenses and 11.9% for immigration offenses.
  • US Department of Justice: National Institute of Corrections
    The NIC is the federal center for correctional education and training.
  • The Vera Institute of Justice
    The Vera Institute of Justice does research in justice systems to make them fairer.

Pittsburgh Region

  • Allegheny County Jail
    Provides information such as Volume of Activity, In-Jail Programs & Activities, Visitor Information, Annual Statistics and Annual Report.
  • Lydia's Place, Inc.
    An interdenominational, interracial, Christian agency dedicated to serving the holistic needs of women offenders by providing a continum of care - from prison, through transition, to stability.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
    If you view the monthly population report, you will see that almost all Pennsylvania facilities are filled to overcapacity. Below are Southwestern Pennsylvania State Correctional Institutions.

  • Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation
    The Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation (PCGF) works to increase the awareness of the impact of a parent's incarceration on young children. According to their 2012 report, 12 to 15 percent of children in Allegheny County will experience the incarceration of at least one parent during childhood.
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bill urged to find new ways to reduce prison population (4/2/2011)
    Pennsylvania's prison population is the fastest growing in the nation, five times greater than it was 30 years ago, and the price per prisoner has nearly tripled from $11,447 a year in 1980 to $32,059 in 2009, according to data from Auditor General Jack Wagner's office. Prison population growth is the fastest growing component of state expenditures and a natural target for cost-containment and for cost reduction by keeping nonviolent offenders (40 percent of the prison population) out of prison.
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: County jail death rate is among highest (5/8/2011)
    A May 08, 2011, article by Rich Lord that reports that Allegheny Correctional Health Services, a nonprofit offshoot of the county, handles health care at the jail, at a cost of around $12 million a year. "On its watch, the jail was one of the dozen deadliest among the nation's 50 largest county jails from 2000 through 2007, and its five deaths in each of 2009 and 2010 gave it a mortality rate more than twice the state average."
  • Renewal, Inc.
    A non-profit organization that provides alternative housing and community corrections services to individuals in Allegheny County, the state of Pennsylvania and the Federal Criminal Justice System.
  • The Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition (SPARC)
    The Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition (SPARC) is an effort to foster collaboration among agencies in Southwestern Pennsylvania to coordinate resources for individuals whose criminal record creates barriers to self-sufficiency. It includes a directory providing contact information for over 75 human service providers within Southwestern Pennsylvania.


  • Pennsylvania Board of Pardons
    In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Board of Pardons reviews criminal cases, except impeachment to determine whether clemency should be recommended to the Governor for his approval or denial. Includes "How to Apply for a Pardon"
  • Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
    includes special announcements and general information on the Board's organization and programs. Also available is a website of parole absconders, information on victim services, and the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board (Megan's Law).
  • Pennsylvania Correctional Industries
    PCI is a Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that operates as a private business, generating its own working capital by selling items that inmates produce. PCI's inmate work program reduces institutional management problems, provides inmates with vocational training and work experience, promotes public safety and contributes to the economy.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
    Provides statistics about the prison population, services for victims, an inmate locator, a state correctional institution locator map, visitor rules, a Handbook for the Families and Friends of prison inmates.
    • Inmate Voting Rights
      Certain prisoners and exprisoners can vote. Check here for the regulations on Voting Rights of Convicted Felons, Convicted Misdemeanants and Pretrial Detainees.