Halfway Home: Book summary and reviews of Halfway Home by Reuben Jonathan Miller

Halfway Home

Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

by Reuben Jonathan Miller

Halfway Home by Reuben Jonathan Miller X
Halfway Home by Reuben Jonathan Miller
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Book Summary

"A beautifully written, stunning, and deeply painful reckoning with our nation's carceral system" (Heather Ann Thompson) 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 live with a felony record.

Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and is now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even 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-fledged member of society is one of America's most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with 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. Parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they've paid their debt to society.

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 explores, America must acknowledge and value the lives of its formerly imprisoned citizens.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A]n intelligent and heartfelt study of how mass incarceration frays familial relationships, harms communities, and sets parolees up for failure...Striking a unique balance between memoir and sociological treatise, this bracing account makes clear just how high the deck is stacked against the formerly incarcerated." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Miller's well-argued book delivers a scarifying account of law gone awry. A powerful argument in favor of judicial reform—now." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"As this beautifully written, stunning, and deeply painful reckoning with our nation's carceral system makes clear, we have not remotely yet grasped what drives it, nor how devastating is its reach. As Miller shows so powerfully, the damage done by this system has been so insidious, and so comprehensive, that certain Americans are always, in effect, doing time and, thus, to undo this crisis, and for most incarcerated Americans to truly ever be able to come "home," will mean doing a whole lot more work than we have yet done." - Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy

"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

This information about Halfway Home was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Reuben Jonathan Miller

Reuben Jonathan Miller is a sociologist, criminologist and a social worker who teaches at the University of Chicago in the School of Social Service Administration where he studies and writes about race, democracy, and the social life of the city. He has been a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton New Jersey, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and Dartmouth College. A native son of Chicago, he lives with his wife and children on the city's Southside.

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