Friday, May 15, 2009

Pelecanos Interviewed by LATimes

I have mentioned I enjoy the work of George Pelecanos, who in addition to publishing 16 books, is also a writer and producer most notably of The Wire. In this interview he discusses his new book but he also touches on community work he has undertaken in prison reform. Here is a 'snippet' (LATimes)

GP: I've been working in adult prisons and juvenile prisons for some time. The prison in the book is based on a place called Oak Hill here in D.C., which is where all the juveniles are sent if they do time. I was out there one day -- I was kind of walking around, I had full access, the boys were in class, and I went into one of the kids' cells -- it just kind of hit me. It was a 6-by-9 cell, it's basically a cot and an open commode sitting in the middle of the room, and there's a dirty piece of plexiglass on the wall that functions as a window, but it's so dirty that you can't see out of it, and very little light gets in. I just started thinking: What's it like? What's it like for a kid to go to jail, and also what's it like for his family? How does this tear them all apart?

I'd been very interested for a long time in incarceration reform. Here in Washington we have a new guy that's been at it for several years now. He's done a tremendous job of trying to change things so that these incarcerations don't just rip up families but neighborhoods and our city, because that's what happens. That's why the book is split into two parts, so you see the way the system was run before, and then these guys go back later in the book when the jail is getting ready to be torn down, and they see how much it's changed for the better.

George is on tour and will also be autographing at BookExpo.
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