Frederic Reamer spent 24 years working as a parole hearing examiner for the Rhode Island Parole Board (1992 to 2016). His job, in a nutshell, was to examine the evidence and determine whether or not a prisoner should be granted parole. Reamer, while telling many many interesting stories about various inmates he has dealt with, also covers all the ground being argued about today regarding incarceration. The "causes of crime, the nature of goodness and evil, the impact of crime on victims, the role of punishment and retribution, the possibilities of redemption and hope, and especially, justice". And not just in clean, "away-from-the-action" academic terms, but in the "trenches" with the inmates themselves. In listening to the inmate's stories, and to the victims anguished pleas. He puts himself in their shoes, to try to understand what it's like to be a prisoner, and all that it entails.
I myself worked over 20 years in corrections, and saw many of the same sights Reamer saw. His experiences led to insights that I also discovered. And to the conclusion that, even after so many years, I "seem to have more questions than answers".
Far from being a "bleeding-heart liberal" or a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" person, Reamer admirably and thoughtfully walks a line right down the center of issues. So many people that I worked with ended up finding themselves on one of the extremes, liberal or conservative, because it was just easier that way, to not to have to constantly wrestle with what we saw and experienced. I don't know how he did it, but my hat is off to him!
I think that this book would be a great read for anyone considering a career in corrections. Those folks would have their eyes opened to situations they will be facing, and prepare them to how they might want to react. The book would also be of great benefit to anyone involved in decision-making about corrections and incarcerations, from the prosecuting attorneys to the legislators making the newest "get-tough on crime" laws. And finally, to anyone interested in getting an insight into what it is like to be a prisoner, and what to expect (mentally) in being incarcerated.