Christopher Zoukis, now thirty, has been incarcerated since he committed a crime as a high school senior. He has, in that time, earned his Bachelor of Arts and also a sound reputation as an advocate and writer on prison issues. This book is his effort to provide prisoners, their attorneys and family members, and other interested parties with a guide to how the federal prison system works, and how to best navigate through it in order to survive intact, retain one’s physical, mental and spiritual health, and even use the time to educate oneself and grow as a person.
FEDERAL PRISON HANDBOOK is nothing if not thorough. It covers almost every conceivable aspect of prison life, from what to expect on arrival to how to buy goods in the commissary to how to avoid fights and how to survive the Special Housing Unit (the “hole”) with one’s mental and physical well-being at least mostly intact. The detail and length of the book does not make it difficult to read – its presentation, clarity, and carefully-organized structure make it simple for a person looking for information on any one particular aspect of prison life to find that information quickly. At times he talks frankly and specifically about how actual experience differs from official prison policy and even federal law, and offers prisoners guidance about how to overcome, manage, or counter indifference, callousness, and injustice from those who control their life circumstances.
Zoukis’ guidance is based on real concern for prisoners’ welfare, seeking to guide them to avoid violence, stay out of trouble, cope with the hardships of prison in a productive way, and make a better life for themselves both in prison and after release. His advice is practical and based on prison life as it is, rather than an ideal image of what it should be. Appendices add useful references and contacts, including sources of books, prisoner advocacy publications, and educational materials, as well as sample lists of commissary goods, prison menus, and disciplinary infractions by level.
FEDERAL PRISON HANDBOOK is an invaluable resource for those incarcerated or with loved ones behind bars, as well as anyone curious about what life in a federal prison is like.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader