Rainbo Book Reviews logo

Review of "Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer" by Richard Shelton

Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer image
Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer
by Richard Shelton

University of Arizona Press
$17.95 Suggested Retail Price

In 1965, three young girls in Tucson, Arizona disappeared, causing a public frenzy when the apparent perpetrator, Charles Schmid, was arrested and subsequently sent to prison. While in prison, Schmid read a book of poetry written by University of Arizona Professor Richard Shelton. He wrote to Shelton and asked him for a critique of his own poetry. That event changed the life of Richard Shelton. He became a teacher in prisons to help the inmates to express themselves and to help himself learn more about how our society deals with criminals.

In an America for which there are only two acceeptable sentences for any crime more serious than spitting on the sidewalk - life without parole or lethal injection - books like this give our society a chance to see what we are doing to these men and women by locking them into situations where violence is the only norm. Shelton tells the stories of several remarkable convicts who have taken advantage of the opportunity that Shelton has given them to become much more than anyone would ever expect. Its a chilling book, because you realize that these men have the capacity to be incredibly cruel and violent, but we will never solve the problem of recivitivism until we change prisons from cages into institutions that lead to a reasonable possibility of some kind of normalcy of life.

Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our October, 2007 issue.

See our reviews of recent works from University of Arizona Press that you might enjoy:

Wings in the Desert
by Amadeo M. Rea
University of Arizona Press
ISBN: 978-0-8165-2459-4

Biologist Amadeo M. Rea produced this fascinating study of the O’odham tribes of Arizona and Northwest Mexico and their scientific knowledge of the many species of birds that populate the American Southwest…[more]

The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place
by Greta Gaard
University of Arizona Press
ISBN: 978-0-8165-2576-8

Greta Gaard takes on a naturalist's journey of hiking and mountain climbing while simultaneously examining the world she faces as a bisexual, and how old traditional methods that societies have used to measure the worth of people have changed as America has been changed by an influx of immigrants from the most incongruous of backgrounds…[more]

See our current Non-Fiction reviews.