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Life Without Parole: Living and Dying in Prison Today

NCJ Number
Victor Hassine
Robert Johnson, Sonia Tabriz
Date Published
194 pages
This is the fifth edition of the author's (Victor Hassine's) life and (in this edition) his death in prison (suicide) while serving a sentence of life without parole.
The co-editors also present essays that engage the reader in a new way of understanding life and death in prison, offering insights that supplement Hassine's own perceptions. Also included in this edition are three of Hassine's fictional short stories, which examine fear, loss, and hope. A brief statement about the author indicates that he and his family immigrated to Trenton, NJ, in 1955 after being exiled from Egypt for religious reasons. After becoming an American citizen in 1966, he graduated from college in 1977 with majors in political science and history. Shortly after graduating from New York Law School in 1980, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in a Pennsylvania court. His account of his prison experience involves both the descriptive reporting of events that happened to him and the impact the environment and experience of prison had on his sense of self-worth and perceptions of his life. A sample: "In this beehive of activity, the prison world around me seemed to grow larger than life, and I felt less and less significant, as if my identity was slowly being leached out of me." Some of the chapter titles reflect this interaction of environment and his inner world of emotion and perception: "The Architecture of Fear," "Gauntlet of Despair," "Staying Sane," and "Things Missed." Some elements of prison life addressed are the difficulty of developing friendships in prison, the consequences of prison overcrowding, prison violence, the underground economy in prison, the management of inmate misconduct, and the consequences of ever more severe sentencing policies. 41 references