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Scott Christianson

Scott Christianson

Journalist and chronicler of the American prison system
will join in a discussion following the
8:00 p.m. reading presented by Ted Conover on
Thursday, October 26, 2000
Recital Hall, PAC

Journalist Scott Christianson, a former Albany muckraker and justice advocate, will read from his new "investigative history," With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America which offers a sweeping study of the role of prisons in America, from convict transports to the English colonies and the African-American slave trade, to modern 'model' prisons. Based on more than 25 years of research, his sweeping narrative about the role of prison in the American experience seeks to do for the United States what Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago did for the Soviet Union and Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore revealed about Australia. Christianson presents an insiders view of the prison system, having served as a New York State public official involved in criminal justice. He worked as chief investigator for the state's prison watchdog agency during the Attica prison riots, and headed a special investigation into riots at Sing Sing six years later.

He received his Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University at Albany, taught at the University and at Union College, and presently teaches creative writing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is Policy Associate and Director of the Death Penalty Documentation Project at the New York State Defenders Association, Inc. and lives near Albany, New York.

Scott Christianson was a guest at the Writers Institute on December 10, 1998.


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"Eloquent, incisive,and deeply disturbing, this book tells what imprisonment has meant in the American experience. The author is a scholar with solid, real-life professional experience on the prison scene; he also cares about prisoners and keepers alike. His treatise has profound implications for public policy. Those who value justice, freedom, and equality under the law should take heed." - Former Governor Mario Cuomo

"If knowledge and intelligence have anything to do with shaping public policy, With Liberty For Some should radically transform our current criminal justice system. Christianson's awesome scholarship and cogent analysis shows how and why the American prison undermines the very foundations of a democratic society. As a sweeping history of American imprisonment, this book packs an emotional wallop, and it will also prove to be an indispensable reference work." - H. Bruce Franklin, author of Prison Writing In 20th-Century America

"A penetrating thought-provoking account. . .This work is especially noteworthy for its cogent examination of the nexus between incarceration and slavery throughout American history, making it a seminal chronicle of this nation's prison heritage." - Library Journal

Albany Times Union Article

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