Just Mercy Expansion Kit #3

"Sometimes the world don't give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds.”
– Jesmyn Ward




In This Kit You’ll Find:

  • 3 copies of American Prison by Shane Bauer
  • 3 copies of The Meaning of Life by Marc Mauer
  • 3 copies of Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • 3 copies of Hell is a Very Small Place Edited by Jean Casella
  • 3 copies of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • 1 copy of discussion questions for Sing Unburied Sing (you may keep)
  • Book sign-up sheet to keep track of books (you may keep)

Themes for Discussion:

  • American Prison: Prison corruption, prison guards, investigative journalism, chain-gangs, privatization
  • The Meaning of Life: Prison & criminal justice reform, racism, life imprisonment
  • Sing Unburied Sing: Southern fiction, racism, drug abuse, rural poor, race relations, poverty, ghosts, suffering
  • Hell is a Very Small Place: Solitary confinement, United States imprisonment, prisons, civil rights, torture
  • Citizen: An American Lyric: poetry, criticism, microaggressions, the nature of racist language, self-identity, racism



About the Book:

American Prison: Investigative journalist, Shane Bauer, draws on his experiences working in a Louisiana private prison to connect today's brutal for-profit prison system to the Civil War-era mass incarcerations of African-American workers. (Novelist)

The Meaning of Life: Leading experts on criminal justice reform offer a call to action to eliminate life sentences, arguing that harsher, longer sentences have little effect on crime rates and older prisoners often pose little threat to public safety. (Novelist)

Sing Unburied Sing: The story describes the life of a biracial boy, his addicted, grieving black mother, and his incarcerated white father. A road trip to Dad's prison kick-starts the novel, which takes place in rural Mississippi with a touch of magical realism. (Novelist)

Hell is a Very Small Place: Sixteen authors describe the misery of life in solitary confinement, which has been denounced as a cruel and degrading punishment by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and explore the psychological, legal, ethical, and political issues surrounding the practice. (Novelist)

Citizen: A National Book Award in Poetry Finalist, the book lays bare moments of racism that often surface in everyday encounters. It combines poetry with commentary, visual art, quotations from artists and critics, slogans, and scripts from films. (Bookforum)


Request Kit Here


Further Your Discussion:

  • Listen: Shane Bauer, author of American Prison, discusses his experience as both prisoner in Iraq and investigating undercover in a Louisiana prison in this podcast Interview:


  • Watch: The poet, Claudia Rankine, reading poems from her collection, Citizen: An American Lyric:


  • Listen & Watch: Jean Casella, editor of Hell is a Very Small Place, speaks about solitary confinement as a public health crisis in America on the Healthcare Policy Podcast. Watch this video for what happens when you spend extended time periods in solitary confinement:

FIND EVENTS (click to begin)→


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