Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

by Reuben Jonathan Miller
Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

by Reuben Jonathan Miller


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A "persuasive and essential" (Matthew Desmond) work that will forever change how we look at life after prison in America through Miller's "stunning, and deeply painful reckoning with our nation's carceral system" (Heather Ann Thompson).

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 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-fledge 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.

PEN America 2022 John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Finalist

Winner of the 2022 PROSE Award for Excellence in Social Sciences

2022 PROSE Awards Finalist

2022 PROSE Awards Category Winner for Cultural Anthropology and Sociology

An NPR Selected 2021 Books We Love

As heard on NPR’s Fresh Air

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316451512
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 02/02/2021
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 701,373
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

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. 

Table of Contents

Something Like an Introduction 3

I Debt

1 Confession 23

2 Guilt 61

3 Sinnerman 95

II Wage

4 Millions of Details 129

5 In Victory and Spectacular Defeat 161

6 Chains and Corpses 193

III Salvation

7 Treatment 213

8 Power 237

9 America, Goddamn! 261

Author's Note 273

Acknowledgments 275

Appendix: The-Gift of Proximity 283

Notes 299

Index 329

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