Waiting for an Echo : The Madness of American Incarceration
by Montross, Christine, M.D.

A Note on Namesxiii
I Our Prisoners
1 Three Hots and a cot
2 How are you on the fourth of July?
3 Since eleven
4 You got kids?
5 Jail, not yale
6 Born on third base
II OUR Prisons
7 The architecture of control
8 The lost people
9 Minnows and killer whales
10 Imagine your bathroom
III Our Choice
11 Nutraloaf
12 Better neighbors
13 I am helping you
14 Good news

"Galvanized by her work in our nation's jails, psychiatrist Christine Montross illuminates the human cost of mass incarceration and mental illness. Dr. Christine Montross has spent her career treating the most severely ill psychiatric patients. Several years ago, she set out to investigate why so many of her patients got caught up in the legal system when discharged from her care-and what happened to them therein. Waiting for an Echo is a riveting, rarely seen glimpse into American incarceration. It is also a damning account of policies that have criminalized mental illness, shifting large numbers of people who belong in therapeutic settings into punitive ones. The stark world of American prisons is shocking for all who enter it. But Dr. Montross's expertise-the mind in crisis-allowed her to reckon with the human stories behind the bars. A father attempting to weigh the impossible calculus of a plea bargain. A bright young woman whose life is derailed by addiction. Boys in a juvenile detention facility who, desperate for human connection, invent a way to communicate with one another from cell to cell. Overextended doctors and correctional officers who strive to provide care and security in environments riddled with danger. In these encounters, Montross finds that while our system of correction routinely makes people with mental illness worse, just as routinely it renders mentally stable people psychiatrically unwell. The system is quite literally maddening. Our methods of incarceration take away not only freedom but also selfhood and soundness of mind. In a nation where 95 percent of all inmates are released from prison and return to our communities, this is a practice that punishes us all"-

Dr. Christine Montross, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in General Nonfiction, is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a practicing inpatient psychiatrist. She is an award-winning poet and the author of Body of Work and Falling into the Fire.

Deinstitutionalization of U.S. mental-health facilities drove the nation's mentally ill into the world with few safety nets. The nation's prison system became and continues to be a significant destination for those left out. Psychiatrist Montross' (Falling into the Fire, 2013) exploration of mental illness and its treatment with incarceration challenges assumptions about rehabilitation, especially in light of the use of mechanisms of revenge and punishment, such as isolation and deprivation. Small infractions can escalate a short sentence into years of solitary confinement, and the mentally ill are especially vulnerable. Comparing the therapeutic environment of the hospital where she treats patients to the methods of control in prisons highlights how prisons are not merely neglecting prisoners' mental-health needs, but exacerbating and sometimes creating mental illness. The three parts of her book explore the prisoners, the environments and treatments to which they're subjected, and possible alternatives. Montross' expertise is complemented by extensive research, including her many visits to facilities. The result is a thoughtful, relatable work that humanizes those who are incarcerated and raises crucial questions. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A searing indictment of a system in which far too many people "languish within prisons and jails because of their poverty, their race, their addiction, or their mental illness." Psychiatrist Montross, who is accustomed to treating mentally ill clients in hospital settings, decided to explore what happened to similar people who landed in the American prison system. What she learned was horrifying—and not just for the inmates. Through her firsthand experiences and diligent research, she concludes that everybody in American society—the imprisoned mentally ill, the rest of the prison population, prison staff, police, attorneys, judges, jurors in criminal trials, loved ones in the free world, residents of neighborhoods into which former inmates have been released, and taxpayers whose money pays for punishment instead of rehabilitation—experiences harm from the status quo. Montross divides the book into three parts—"Our Prisoners," "Our Prisons," and "Our Choice"—each undergirded by copious anecdotes involving real people in distress. In the first section, the author explains why so many obviously mentally ill women and men en d up in prison. As she notes, most crimes they commit are caused, at least in part, by their mental illness, and prison staff members are woefully unqualified to deal with psychiatric issues effectively. The second section includes chilling case studies of ineffective incarceration, especially regarding solitary confinement. The final section offers some hope, as Montross chronicles her research in Norway, where prisons have drastically lowered recidivism rates by emphasizing human rehabilitation. So why does the U.S. refuse to learn from such success stories? Montross consistently wrestles with that conundrum, but answers are elusive. In conclusion, the author quotes James Baldwin: "Nothing can be changed until it is faced." In this revelatory book, the author faces the problem head-on. Read this and then turn to Jason Hardy's The Second Chance Club to learn more about what happens after inmates are released. Yet another eye-opening, powerful demonstration of the profound structural problems with mass incarceration in the U.S. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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