Book of the Month: Life Behind Bars

America’s carceral system is deeply flawed. It is filled with deep injustices and its criminalization of black and brown bodies can never be fully stated. Those are facts. More so, the American prison system suffers from the prison-industrial complex. Where to begin? The imprisonment of people has resulted in the massive economic profit and political influence for certain groups. Again, these are facts. 

But what about the people watching over these inmates? Seldom do we hear about correctional officers and staff charged with the responsibility of overseeing inmates.  Here is where the book of this month comes in. Life Behind Bars is a first-hand testament of the author, who spent fifteen years on a tour of duty at the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC). He provides excellent and never-before-seen/heard insights into the world of DOC in Delaware. 

What makes this a unique book is that we rarely get to hear of perspectives of the officers that are in charge in American prisons. Yet, this book takes a combined approach of shining a light on the injustices that plagues both inmates and the officials that guard them. The author understands that criminals are often paying for crimes they have committed (and in some cases have not committed) and yet the offenders have guaranteed rights that are enshrined in the United States Constitution. It is this kind of humanity with which the author approaches telling his story.

Apparently, being a corrections officer is one of the least desirable professions in the United States. In the state of Texas, for instance, the attrition rate for correctional officers is 40%.  Several states have officer vacancies upwards of 20%, and in 2022, both Mississippi and Alabama had empty correctional officer positions to the tune of 50 and 58%, respectively.   Correctional officers are more likely to experience stress, exhaustion, hostile work environments, violence, mental health challenges, and PTSD. The author should know these; he was not exempt from some of these negative outcomes himself. 

And yet, up until now, we had not had a firsthand perspective of what it must be like to work at the Department of Corrections, and to be in some sense, stuck behind bars just like the inmates. especially drawing on insights from working with the Delaware system. He gives an honest take of these challenges that makes this a page turner for sure.

In a lot of ways, this book takes us on a a sociological journey to understand our society better. One theme that sticks out in this book and which I hope you get to appreciate for yourself is microaggressions and the amount of intrinsic violence embedded in the system, all of which are perpetuated not necessarily by inmates but also by staff. A lot of important themes will jump out at you in this book, I promise. And it will leave you even more shocked about what goes on in the prisons, and ergo, among law enforcement officers. In addition to sharing his experience with inexperience of staff, favoritism, impropriety, indiscipline, among other things, the author proposes helpful recommendations that can, if taken seriously, transform Delaware’s Department of Corrections. 

It's a griping memoir, a courageous one too. Because speaking out so boldly against a racist, xenophobic, unjust, and deeply flawed system requires the kind of courage that most aren’t willing to exercise. It is completely factual in a way that no other law enforcement memoirs dare to be.

I know you’ll love it too!



You can order your copy of Life Behind Bars here!


  1. I’ve put the book in my cart just need to check out one of these days. Smh. I have an uncle working in Corrections (I believe) but I’ve never really had time to sit with him and listen to his stories. I probably should anytime we have the opportunity to see again. Everything needs an overhaul. Sigh.

    1. Girlll you should def read it, so so eye opening!