In light of Father’s Day and ongoing conversations on police and prison reform, UC Press acknowledges incarcerated fathers and the challenges that families face. The following titles highlight numerous issues in the criminal justice system from wrongful convictions to the California parole system.
Smoke but No Fire
Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened
by Jessica S. Henry
Rodricus Crawford was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder by suffocation of his beautiful baby boy. After years on death row, evidence confirmed what Crawford had claimed all along: he was innocent, and his son had died from an undiagnosed illness. Crawford is not alone. A full one-third of all known exonerations stem from no-crime wrongful convictions.
The first book to explore this common but previously undocumented type of wrongful conviction, Smoke but No Fire tells the heartbreaking stories of innocent people convicted of crimes that simply never happened. A suicide is mislabeled a homicide. An accidental fire is mislabeled an arson. Corrupt police plant drugs on an innocent suspect. A false allegation of assault is invented to resolve a custody dispute. With this book, former New York City public defender Jessica S. Henry sheds essential light on a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these convictions to regularly occur.
Family and Fatherhood during Incarceration and Reentry
by Tasseli McKay, Megan Comfort, Christine Lindquist, and Anupa Bir
Holding On reveals the results of an unprecedented ten-year study of justice-involved families, rendering visible the lives of a group of American families whose experiences are too often lost in large-scale demographic research. Using new data from the Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting, and Partnering—a groundbreaking study of almost two thousand families, incorporating a series of couples-based surveys and qualitative interviews over the course of three years—Holding On sheds rich new light on the parenting and intimate relationships of justice-involved men, challenging long-standing boundaries between research on incarceration and on the well-being of low-income families. Boldly proposing that the failure to recognize the centrality of incarcerated men’s roles as fathers and partners has helped to justify a system that removes them from their families and hides that system’s costs to parents, partners, and children, Holding On considers how research that breaks the false dichotomy between offender and parent, inmate and partner, and victim and perpetrator might help to inform a next generation of public policies that truly support vulnerable families.
The Feminist War on Crime
The Unexpected Role of Women’s Liberation in Mass Incarceration
by Aya Gruber
Deploying vivid cases and unflinching analysis, The Feminist War on Crime documents the failure of the state to combat sexual and domestic violence through law and punishment. Zero-tolerance anti-violence law and policy tend to make women less safe and more fragile. Mandatory arrests, no-drop prosecutions, forced separation, and incarceration embroil poor women of color in a criminal justice system that is historically hostile to them. This carceral approach exacerbates social inequalities by diverting more power and resources toward a fundamentally flawed criminal justice system, further harming victims, perpetrators, and communities alike.
In order to reverse this troubling course, Gruber contends that we must abandon the conventional feminist wisdom, fight violence against women without reinforcing the American prison state, and use criminalization as a technique of last—not first—resort.
Relying on nearly fifty years of parole hearing transcripts, as well as interviews and archival materials, Hadar Aviram invites readers into the opaque world of the California parole process—a realm of almost unfettered administrative discretion, prison programming inadequacies, high-pitched emotions, and political pressures. Yesterday’s Monsters offers a fresh longitudinal perspective on extreme punishment.
The Story of the San Quentin News
by William J. Drummond
Prison Truth tells the story of how prisoners, many serving life terms, transformed the prison climate from what Johnny Cash called a living hell to an environment that fostered positive change in inmates’ lives. Award-winning journalist William J. Drummond takes us behind bars, introducing us to Arnulfo García, the visionary prisoner who led the revival of the newspaper. Drummond describes how the San Quentin News, after a twenty-year shutdown, was recalled to life under an enlightened warden and the small group of local retired newspaper veterans serving as advisers, which Drummond joined in 2012. Sharing how officials cautiously and often unwittingly allowed the newspaper to tell the stories of the incarcerated, Prison Truth illustrates the power of prison media to humanize the experiences of people inside penitentiary walls and to forge alliances with social justice networks seeking reform.