In the Belly of the Beast

Topics: Prison / Pages: 11 (2678 words) / Published: Aug 29th, 2013
| In the Belly of the Beast | Jack Henry Abbott | The "Pains of Imprisonment" and "The Inmate Social System" | | |

"In the Belly of the Beast" is a generous collection of autobiographical, political, and philosophical letters to an author from a man who takes life head on, but with a different approach. Norman Mailer, an author, was in the middle of writing a novel entitled "The Executioner Song", which is the story about a murderer named Gary Gilmore. While this novel was in the works, Mailer received a letter from Jack Henry Abbott, a convict having been in jail most of his life. Abbott 's letter was solely criticism that accused Mailer of not knowing what real life in prison is like, but that Abbott would do everything in his power to clarify the aspects of what violence and everyday life is like in prison. A wide array of subject matter was covered far past the basic account of "a day in the life of an prisoner". The rationale of the inmate hierarchy is displayed from the inside with a totality that would take years of research and interviews. It is clear that there is no doubt concerning the feelings Abbott has for his jailers, and the establishment they represent. He clearly expresses throughout his writings that the corrections system exists to oppress the unfortunate and underprivileged. Abbott began to talk about the fact that he was in and out of foster homes almost from the time of his birth. By the age of nine, he was already in juvenile detention centers. The downhill trend continued for Abbott as he was sent to the Utah State Industrial School for Boys at the young age of twelve. He was only released from this institution when he reached the age of eighteen. The correspondence are depictions of extraordinary events that have allegedly happened over a span of about fifteen years. Therefore, even before he became an adult, he was subjected to violence, deviant behavior, and prison-like environments. There are many other aspects of



Bibliography: Abbott, Jack Henry. 1991. (or the correct date of your own book) In the Belly of the Beast. NY: Vintage. Sykes, Gresham. 1958. “The Pains of Imprisonment.” Pp. 63-83 in The Society of Captives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Sykes, Gresham and Sheldon L. Messinger. 1994. “The Inmate Social System.” Pp. 427-436 in Classics of Criminology. Ed. by Joseph E. Jacoby. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.

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