WATCH: A journey to justice in prisons around the world

"Incarceration Nations" author Baz Dreisinger traveled the world's prisons to rethink justice in a radical way

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published July 31, 2017 6:45PM (EDT)

People from many parts of the globe view America as the ultimate land of opportunity, a place where dreams easily come true for those who are ambitious and not afraid of a little hard work. That may be true for some, but it’s definitely not a universal experience. Social mobility isn’t guaranteed in the U.S., even for those who follow all of the rules. America is quickly becoming a place where for some, it can be easier to go jail than to make a decent wage.

We currently have more than 2 million incarcerated people in our country and that number is rapidly growing. Contrary to what many believe, we also have some of the worst prisons in the world­­, with dilapidated infrastructures, located in polluted environments and staffed by corrupt guards. Dr. Baz Dreisinger has researched prisons all over the world and has documented their conditions and how they compare with America's prisons in her book "Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World."

On a recent episode of "Salon Talks," Dreisinger shared her findings.

On how she got started documenting prison culture:

I’ve been working in an education context in prisons in America, here in New York, for about a decade and a half, and became really interested in rethinking the whole entity of prison and what it is, why we do it and how it came to be, and how it looks in other countries and also how we might do things better if we rethought this in a radical way.

Watch more of our conversation about radical prison reform and what it should look like.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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