Our institutions are a reflection of who we are as a people, and an indication of the hopes and fears we harbor as a society. Our country’s prisons are no exception. So what do they say about us? Do they keep us safe or actually imperil those they’re meant to protect? Are they an opportunity for the incarcerated to redirect lives gone wrong, or do they inflict “cruel and unusual punishment”? While the answers to these questions will undoubtedly vary, one thing is certain: 95% of those behind bars will someday be released. Will society be safe when they are? And will the incarcerated be prepared to rejoin us productively and with the hope of a different future?
Joining us to explore these questions is Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout, an independent social justice news website. She is also the author of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better.