Reading List

Washington Prison History: A Reading List

There is a growing body of literature on the history of prisons, punishment, and rebellion in Washington. While Prison Legal News, The Kite, and the historical newspapers housed in the WPHP archive provide journalistic coverage of events as they happen, scholarly publications and long-form narratives  provide more in-depth analyses of how these institutions have developed or changed over time. Below is a partial list of books and scholarly articles. Readers may also be interested in the Washington state data and charts maintained by the Prison Policy Initiative, the Sentencing Project, and the Vera Institute as well as the state Department of Corrections.

Prison Conditions

Burton-Rose, Daniel. Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the Anticapitalist Underground of the 1970s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

Hoffman, Ethan, and McCoy, John. Concrete Mama: Prison Profiles from Walla Walla. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018.

Keve, Paul W. The McNeil Century: The Life and times of an Island Prison. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1984.

Longworth, Arthur. Zek: An American Prison Story. Seattle Gabalfa Press, 2016.

Lovell, David et al. “Who Lives in Super-Maximum Custody? A Washington State Study,” Federal Probation, 64: 2, 33-46.

Murray, Christopher. Unusual Punishment: Inside the Walla Walla Prison, 1970-1985. Pullman, Washington: WSU Press Washington State University Press, 2016.

Rhodes, Lorna A. Total Confinement Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Stastny, Charles, and Gabrielle Tyrnauer. Who Rules the Joint? : The Changing Political Culture of Maximum-security Prisons in America. Lexington,: Lexington Books, 1982.

Young, Elliot. “Caging Immigrants at McNeil Island Federal Prison, 1880-1940.” Pacific Historical Review, 88: 1, 48-85. 

Criminal Justice Policy

 Abu-Hazeem, A., Gilman, A.B., Thomas, F.G., & Sanford, R. Girls of Color in Detention in Washington State. Olympia, WA: Washington State Center for Court Research, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2020.

Beckett, Katherine and Steven Herbert. Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Beckett, Katherine and Heather Evans. “About Time: How Long and Life Sentences Fuel Mass Incarceration in Washington State.” Published by ACLU Washington, 2020.

Beckett, Katherine and Heather Evans. “The Role of Race in Washington State Capital Sentencing, 1981 – 2014.

Boerner, David, and Roxanne Lieb. “Sentencing Reform in the Other Washington.” Crime And Justice: A Review Of Research, Vol 28: 28 (2001), 71-136.

Blagg, Dakota, et al. “Life Without Parole Sentences in Washington State: Law, Societies, and Justice Group Honors Report,” 2015.

Burton-Rose, Daniel., Pens, Dan, and Wright, Paul. The Celling of America : An inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry. Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1998.

Harris, Alexes. A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2016.

Thorpe, Rebecca. “Perverse Politics: The Persistence of Mass Imprisonment in the Twenty-First Century.” Perspectives on Politics, 13 (3), 618-637.

Reflections on Criminalization and Punishment

Coker, Donna and Lindsay C. Harrison, “The Story of Wanrow: The Reasonable Woman and the Law of Self-Defense,” in Criminal Law Stories, New York: Thomson Reuters/Foundation Press, 2013.

Conte, William R. Is Prison Reform Possible? The Washington State Experience in the Sixties. Tacoma: Unique Press, 1990.

Fearn, Noelle E. and Kelly Parker (2004). “Washington State’s Residential Parenting Program,” Californian Journal of Health and Promotion, 2: 4, 34-48.

Roy Gardner, My Story / Hellcatraz. San Francisco: Douglas/Ryan Communications, 2000.

Gilcrist, Alvin L. (2006) “MEAN AL, a.k.a. Daddy,” Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 5: 1, Article 18.

Mead, Ed. Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead. Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2015.

Stroud, Robert. Looking Outward: A Voice from the Grave. Springfield: Looking Outward, LLC, 2014.

Washington State Penitentiary. The Convict Cookbook. Walla Walla: J.G. Narum, 2004.

Reflections on the Washington Prison History Project

Dan Berger, Magdalena Donea, Denise Hattwig, and Danielle Rowland, “A Counter-Archive of Imprisonment: The Washington Prison History Project,” PUBLIC 5: 2.

Magdalena Donea, “The Warden Game: Power and Politics in a Recovered 1980s Text Adventure Game,” In Media Res, Dec 10, 2018.

Updates from the University of Washington Bothell's Project on Mass Incarceration in Washington State