In 1986, the late University of Pittsburgh professor Wendell Wray helped me secure a 9-month internship in prison library management at SCI-Pittsburgh under the tutelage of Stephen Mallinger. That strange, brief trip convinced me that corrections would allow me to help prisoners reject their criminality so they could shoe-horn some meaning and purpose into their broken lives. I still believe this. But I no longer count on it. I further nurtured the altruistic conceit that I could champion prisoners’ rights. After a few years in State service, it became clear that the only true way to accomplish this was to quit and join a prisoner’s advocacy group. I decided to remain in corrections, and see what good could be done from the inside.
Nearly three decades and three prisons later (MCI-Walpole/ Old Colony Correctional Center/ Norfolk), more than just Time separates ‘now’ from those heady, idealistic days when my kindhearted inclination was to characterize prisoners as “Those poor, poor people!” Since then, I’ve witnessed enough orgies of self-righteousness in Pokey libraries to compel even the most starry-eyed public defender to stab herself through the heart with her dog-eared, latte-stained copy of Gideon’s Trumpet.
As a rule (that, on occasion, I break), I do not attend conferences or seek membership in organizations. Although I do recommend the Correctional Educational Association and the American Correctional Association.
When talk shifts to service philosophy for the incarcerated, I champion the role of correctional employee with a Library science specialty. In these discussions, some correctional Librarians occasionally cannot come to grips with basing their Librarianship on correctional theory. Because I work from the premise that I’m a corrections employee first and a Librarian second, I have a difficult time understanding those who see themselves in the reverse.
Please use the links below to:
- Access the Radical Reference page which describes the Critical Librarianship symposium in which I participated on November 17, 2012
- Access the video recording of the Critical Librarianship symposium
- Access my textbook showing you how to give a legal research course to prisoners.
- Access my article written while a Librarian at Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, MA about our legal research course to prisoners.
- Access an article about my SCI-Pittsburgh internship in prison library management
- Access my Simmons College instructor page
- Access my SJSU lecturer page
- Read a blog post about a tour of the MCI-Norfolk segregation and population libraries (2005)
- Read the kindest comment I ever received about my correctional library management course
If you want to email me, please click here