I made it into and out of the prison, my first time visiting someone "inside." It was less horrific than I expected, which was not to say that it was pleasant at all. Commenting on the high recidivism rates, the parishioner whom I was visiting suggested part of the problem is that prison is actually a better environment than many folks can achieve otherwise--even with overcrowding, there is a clean place to sleep, 3 meals a day, and television and basketball. The worst things for him are the lack of privacy (virtually none, ever; a circle of 30 feet with nobody around is rare) and the total inefficiency of the system. He recommended the book An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse, which demonstrates the many flaws of our current penal system--not the least of which, it isn't actually making our society more safe. The author of the book, Jens Soering, has also written a book about surviving incarceration through centering prayer.