• The cover of the book Orange Is the New Black

    Orange Is the New Black

    If you haven’t read the book that the hit Netflix show is based on, what are you waiting for? The two differ in characters and plot (as you can imagine, the show turned the drama dial up to 11), but it’s worth reading about Kerman’s eye-opening experiences in her own words.

     
  • The cover of the book High Achiever

    High Achiever

    Tiffany Jenkins was the captain of her high school cheerleading squad, and a few years later, was dating her hometown Deputy Sheriff. That’s why her time in jail—20 felonies committed as a result of opioid addiction—was such a shock to her small town. This memoir chronicles her incredible story to recovery.

     
  • The cover of the book Cherry

    Cherry

    This novel focuses on a soldier’s return home after working as a medic in Iraq. In addition to harrowing memories of his deployment, he’s faced with the opioid epidemic in the Midwest. He soon becomes a heroin user and turns to a life of crime in order to fuel his addiction.

     
  • The cover of the book Affinity

    Affinity

    As far as prison fiction goes, Affinity is one of the greatest. It’s set in Victorian London and features Margaret Prior, who visits the women’s ward of a notorious prison. There she becomes drawn in by Selina Dawes, a spiritualist who claims her innocence, and becomes devoted to securing Selina’s freedom.

     
  • The cover of the book Smashed

    Smashed

    Where is the line between addiction and using alcohol as a coping mechanism? That’s what Koren Zailckas’s memoir examines. She used alcohol as liquid courage, but as the years progressed, her use and habits became more and more dangerous until she realized she needed to stop drinking altogether.

     
  • The cover of the book The Other Wes Moore

    The Other Wes Moore

    You can’t talk about prison without examining the role that race plays in the system. The Other Wes Moore features two men with the same name: one ended up a Rhodes Scholar and a decorated veteran, while the other is serving a life sentence for murder. How does this happen, and what can be done to break the cycle of poverty and violence?

     
  • The cover of the book Alias Grace

    Alias Grace

    Margaret Atwood’s modern classic (which was adapted into a Netflix miniseries) follows Grace Marks, a housekeeper who’s convicted of murdering her employer and sentenced to life in prison. But she claims to have no memory of the murders, which attracts the attention of a mental illness expert and others who want to secure her freedom.

     
  • The cover of the book American Prison

    American Prison

    What happens to a society when incarcerating its citizens becomes a for-profit endeavor? That’s what Shane Bauer looks at in this examination of private prisons. He takes a job as an entry-level prison guard at a for-profit prison; his book traces the origin of these private facilities, from the antebellum South up to now.

     
  • The cover of the book A World Apart

    A World Apart

    This book looks at the phenomenon of incarcerated women, a number that’s quintupled in the past two decades, mostly on drug-related charges. It manages to combine a broad, overarching story with the one-on-one tales of what these women—especially women of color—face in the justice system.