Reflection to the Book Inside Rikers

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When I first picked up Inside Rikers by Jennifer Wynn, I could not help but notice a disturbing image of the book cover; it was an image of an inmate locked up in his cell; he had one hand holding the bar, while having the other hand out of the cell, with a cigarette in his hand. Then I read the Publisher Weekly’s description of the book in the cover page, which read, “a penetrating exploration of inmates’ lives in New York’s ‘vast penal colony’… unusually stirring.” Based on this image and Publisher Weekly’s description, I thought this book was going to talk about inmates’ involvement in criminal activities inside Rikers Island, i.e. fights between the prison gangs. Nevertheless, once I started reading, I came to realize my presumption was totally wrong. Prior to reading this book, I have been thinking that all criminals are just like any other “normal” persons in this world: they are smart people capable of making rational choices, and they, like “normal” people, have an equal opportunity to succeed, but they ended up being incarcerated because they made a “rational choice” to engage in criminal activities. Nevertheless, this book clearly and evidently proved to me how naive I had been. I did not take into account the factors, such as poor and devastated social environments in which criminals were born and raised, that leaves someone no other choice but to resort to criminal activities. Another thing I learned from this book is the importance of rehabilitation. In this reaction paper, I will discuss each of my reactions in depth.

Family and Opportunity

This book actually changed my perception about inmates and crimes. I came to realize how social factors (such as being raised under incapable and irresponsible guardians or having lack of opportunity) play a big factor when it comes to crime. Rico’s life, which left me heartbroken, clearly illustrated that to me. I thought it was devastating how he became alcoholic at the age...
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