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Halfway Home

Halfway Home

Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

A remarkable work of scholarship and reportage by a noted sociologist that will forever change how we look at life after prison 

Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who must live with a felony record.
Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and later a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledge member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with the new reality of jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast.

As The Color of Law exposed about our understanding of housing segregation, Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate, but is in fact structured to keep a particular class of people impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society.
This invaluable work of scholarship, deftly informed by Miller’s experience as the son and brother of incarcerated men, captures the stories of the men, women, and communities fighting against a system that is designed for them to fail. It is a poignant and eye-opening call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost not only from those working to rebuild their lives, but also our democracy. As Miller searchingly writes, America must acknowledge and value the lives of its formerly imprisoned citizens.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Social Science / Criminology

On Sale: February 2nd 2021

Price: $14.99 / $18.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 352

ISBN-13: 9780316451499

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


“In this subtle mix of memoir, meditation, and sociology, Reuben Miller takes us inside the lives of poor black men and their loved ones whose existences are mangled by the deadly combination of poverty, pain and prison. This vivid portrait of the penal state in action from the viewpoint of its targets will captivate scholars and energize activists for criminal justice reform.”
Loïc Wacquant, author of Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity
Halfway Home  is a stunning book that vividly brings to life statistics on incarceration, recidivism, and life after prison. We see the impact of racism on the lived experience of the people Reuben Miller introduces us to. As in a powerful novel, the characters come alive for the reader. I was deeply moved by their stories, angered by the flagrant injustices of the so-called justice system, furious at the way impersonal bureaucratic regulations made rehabilitation virtually impossible, and awed by the persistence of those who managed—against all odds—to make new lives for themselves. What makes the book even more compelling is Miller’s own story, which is skillfully woven into this richly detailed narrative. Halfway Home comes at a moment of high consciousness about the problem of race in America; its portrayal of the human costs of prisons and post-incarceration will add a critical and clarifying dimension to the conversation.”
Joan W. Scott, Professor Emerita, Institute for Advanced Study
“Reuben Miller’s vivid and beautiful storytelling transports readers into the lives of families caught in the long shadow of mass incarceration. Halfway Home is a must read for anyone seeking to understand this American crisis, which should be all of us.”
H. Luke Shaefer, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
“Miller lifts the veil that keeps most of us, even many criminal justice experts, from knowing the ‘prison beyond the prison’; the ‘supervised society’ to which legions of our fellow citizens are sentenced by birth, by race, and for life. Halfway Home  confronts the reader, whether system reformer or abolitionist, with the enormity of the task ahead if we are to overcome mass incarceration, and the certainty it will haunt any new institutions that arise to take its place.”
Jonathan Simon, author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prison in America
“Reuben Miller’s brilliant new book will make your head spin, your heart bleed and your blood boil. His unique and powerful blend of memoir and ethnography brings the reader uncomfortably close to human stories that expose and excoriate the racialized cruelty of American criminal ‘justice’. He draws deeply on impressive historical and sociological scholarship to make sense of these stories, not just in the search for explanation, but also to find hope of a better way forward. For everyone and anyone who cares about justice, Miller’s book is not just crucial reading, it is a call to join the struggle against 'mass incarceration' and 'mass supervision.’”
Fergus McNeill, Professor of Sociology and Criminology and Social Work at the University of Glasgow, School of Social and Political Sciences
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