The Rise of the Prison-Industrial Complex: Background information when reading The Graybar Hotel

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Graybar Hotel

Stories

by Curtis Dawkins

The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins X
The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2017, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2018, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

The Rise of the Prison-Industrial Complex

This article relates to The Graybar Hotel

Print Review

PrisonerThe Graybar Hotel makes one reflect on the incarceration rates in the United States and the reason for its explosion over recent decades.

Readers might remember the George H. W. Bush vs. then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis presidential campaign. It has been argued that two commercials truly sealed Dukakis's fate: The Willie Horton ad and the Revolving Door clip. Borrowing heavily from the "fear factor" handbook, the campaign implied that Dukakis was soft on crime, giving murderers like Willie Horton, "weekend passes" to leave prison and commit more of them. America, the Bush campaign argued, couldn't afford somebody with such lenient stances on criminals. Politicians have sometimes adopted such approaches, thereby stoking citizens' fears and then reassuring them with policies that have lead, not only to greater incarceration rates, but also harsher sentences for all crimes across the board.

Politicians with their "tough on crime" approach are but one leg of the sturdy U.S. prison-industrial complex, the complicated and overlapping sectors of government and industry that use corrections as a solution to economic, social and political problems. Just as President Eisenhower once warned about the fear of nuclear war spawning an increase in military spending that, in turn, increases corporate profits, so too has the prison-industrial complex created an unhealthy relationship between government and corporations.

California Institution for Women Prison ComplexA must-read article in The Atlantic states that "the United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world – perhaps half a million more than Communist China. The American inmate population has grown so large that it is difficult to comprehend: imagine the combined populations of Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, and Miami behind bars." This article is old but the scale holds. Another way to look at these numbers: A Prison Policy Initiative report states that the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, but it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners. According to the non-profit organization, Prison Policy Initiative, the American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And one in five people are jailed for a drug-related offense.

A decrease in drug-related incarcerations alone is not enough to drop the growing number of prisons and crowded jails in the country. That's because, industry experts argue in an article in The Economist, sentences have also gotten tougher on all kinds of crimes so criminals stay jailed for longer.

Orleans Parish Prison YardLarge prisons have cropped up in economically challenged communities as a way of increasing revenue, and corporations that cater to prisons are big business. A Vice article reported that "The Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments, who are America's top two 401(k) providers, are also two of the private prison industry's biggest investors." Together, they own about 20 percent of both CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO, two of the biggest for-profit corporations in the prisons business.

While President Obama called for criminal justice reform and commuted the sentences of many non-violent drug offenders toward the end of his presidency, not much is expected to change in the American incarceration rates any time soon.

Prisoner graphic
California Institution for Women Prison Complex in Chino, CA, courtesy of csw.ucla.edu
Orleans Parish Prison Yard

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Graybar Hotel. It originally ran in July 2017 and has been updated for the May 2018 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Everything Inside
    Everything Inside
    by Edwidge Danticat
    Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American writer, and Haiti looms large as a presence in this ...
  • Book Jacket: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    by Christy Lefteri
    In Christy Lefteri's sophomore novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the author introduces readers to ...
  • Book Jacket: Marilou Is Everywhere
    Marilou Is Everywhere
    by Sarah Elaine Smith
    "The point is that at that moment in my life," writes the narrator of Sarah Elaine Smith's debut ...
  • Book Jacket: Let's Call It a Doomsday
    Let's Call It a Doomsday
    by Katie Henry
    However the world will end, Ellis Kimball is ready for it. Her obsessive stash of survivalist ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Secrets We Kept
    by Lara Prescott

    Reese Witherspoon's Sept Book Club Pick!
    "This is the rare page-turner with prose that’s as wily as its plot."—EW
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Yale Needs Women
    by Anne Gardiner Perkins

    A tale of courage in the face of arrogance that remains eerily relevant on U.S. campuses today.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Today We Go Home
by Kelli Estes

Illuminating and deeply human, Today We Go Home shines a light on the brave military women of the past and present.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Chase Darkness with Me

How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

S S A C A Big S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.