Lethal Rejection features an array of fiction on crime and punishment written by prisoners, academics and students of criminology. The authors use short stories, plays, and poetry to provide authentic and vivid depictions of the netherworld that is our penal system. In the words of noted criminologist and lawyer, Joycelyn Pollock, "this book is fiction; but it is also a book about prison that can offer a type of truth that numbers can't. Enjoy your reading – if you can."
Read one reader's review of Lethal Rejection's fiction here.
"Robert Johnson, Sonia Tabriz and their fellow authors paint a compelling picture of lives shaped by crime and dubious punishment. By connecting us emotionally to people and places too-often hidden from public empathy, these writings force these experiences to the forefront of our consciousness. In describing real lives and real people sometime obscured by the policy debates on criminal justice, these fictionalized realities counter a narrow conception of prisoners and their worlds. I highly recommend this book to all students of the prison."
—Barbara Owen, California State University Fresno
"Too much of the writing about prisons is at arms-length from the experience and reality of confinement. Not this book. The stories provided in Lethal Rejection are alive with the drama, the emotion, and the deep meaning of living behind bars. The writers give us powerful and vibrant testimony about the imprisonment experience—something that cannot easily be imagined in the abstract but which can, with the help of the writings here, be felt in the reading. The book makes us encounter the lives of the confined in a way I have not experienced in any other book about prison life."
—Todd Clear, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York"
"Lethal Rejection is unique in that it uses fiction to convey the perceived deficiencies of the justice system and prisons. One cannot read the narratives contained in the book without feeling angry, sad, or dumbfounded with the failures the authors believe are often present in the correctional system. Because the book contains little complicated legal jargon, it is easily readable for students, academics, and correctional professionals."
—Shaun Gann, The Journal of Criminal Justice Education
"[T]he authors (prisoners, academics, and students) use poetry, prose, and plays to take the reader into the 'reality' of prison and the justice system — not through facts and figures, but through the tears and screams, blood and pain of the people chewed up by it. ...[T]his book is fiction; but it is also a book about prison that can offer a type of truth that numbers can't. Enjoy your reading—if you can."
—Jocelyn M. Pollock, Professor of Criminal Justice, Texas State University-San Marcos, and author of Prison Life: Costs and Consequences
"I came to this collection with a few preconceptions, limited by my own ignorance and naivete. But I came to this work as many other readers might — with curiosity, interest, and a hope that hte work would engage and enlighten me. It did that and more. [T]hese writers have truths to tell that we need to hear. As Dante had Virgil, we are blessed to have these fine writers as our guides into this underworld. May your journey here bring you, as it did me, out of the darkness and into the light."
—Martha Andrews Donovan, Associate Professor of Writing, New England College, and author of Dress Her in Silk
"In theory, convicts are sentenced to prison as punishment, not for punishment. In practice, however, physical and psychological punishment are rampant. This reality is impossible to fathom from the cold legal language of statutes and judicial opinions alone. We need a deeper understanding, allowing us to penetrate the prison experience — the fears and the nightmares as well as the sensitivities and the dreams of those whom society segregates from the outside world. Legislators, judges, academics, lawyers, and students of both law and life can learn a great deal from the compelling stories presented in this simultaneously frightening and enlightening collection."
—Ira P. Robbins, Professor of Law and Justice and Barnard T. Welsh Scholar, Washington College of Law, and author of Prisoners and the Law
"This book is a sad and appropriate testimonial to one of its contributors, who took his own life in a prison cell after decades of stultifying confinement. The loss of all hope and of any chance of redemption is the sort of unyielding, back-to-the-wall reality that is impossible for most of us to envisage and even harder to convey. Yet such are the grim and disheartening experiences that brought to life for us in vivid prose — and occasional touches of poetry — by the authors of this book. This stimulating anthology is an invaluable resource for teachers who want to add meat and substance to their criminal justice offerings."
—Hans Toch, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, State University of New York, and author of Living in Prison
"A great read.... These authors have dared to share what they never wanted to know. Hopefully, these stories will force us to consider the crime we commit by imprisoning two million people. This book carries the light born in the darkness of the American Gulag."
—Stephen C. Richards, Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and author of Convict Criminology