Prison From the Inside Out is both a book and an act of trust: A black man from New Jersey and a white woman from New York meet in a workshop at a North Carolina prison. They decide they have something to tell the world about incarceration, self-esteem, personal growth, survival, and the power of trust.
Prison From the Inside Out is the winner of the 2021 “Silver” award from the Nonfiction Authors Association.
348 pages, written by William “Mecca” Elmore and Susan Simone
Prison from the Inside Out by William “Mecca” Elmore and Susan Simone is a powerful story depicting the struggles in the life of William and his family, his life at the prison, and their indomitable spirit that lifted them from darker days. The story also sheds light on a number of critical issues, questioning the nature of justice in the societal system that we live in, hinting towards the need for reform.
William was convicted for shooting a person, although he had not intended to hurt anyone. His aim was to save his friend from an embroilment, but that very same friend testified against him at the court. This book, at any point, doesn’t try to conceal the crime. It speaks about things as it happened and forces the readers to analyze deeply why we are carrying forward a system that is essentially flawed.
The narrative takes us through the journey from his teenage to his introduction into the world of crime and drugs. The story is woven with utter truthfulness, bringing out the harsh realities that often elude us. The book provides a fresh perspective regarding the ones who spend their lives behind bars, falling prey to an inefficient system.
The book’s subtitle ‘One Man’s Journey From a Life Sentence to Freedom’ aptly reflects the crux of the matter. It’s in not giving up that William finds his freedom, and Susan Simone records his words with great articulation, grasping its essence aptly. The image of the prison days becomes gloomy, scary, and brutally real, but the hope at the end of the tunnel keeps the reader hooked throughout. With the help and unconditional support of his mother and sister, William learns to see that ray of hope. And to know how he goes about it, you have to give this book a read.
Thanks to the oral history method the author has used, each and every incident taking place in the lives of William and his loved ones come alive in the readers mind. It sends a strong message of hope and relentless will, that steers away from the gloomy sadness of a life sentence. This book is an exemplary read for anyone who wishes to look at the larger picture of the justice system.
Lucy Suchman –
With all that we know of the suffering and injustice of incarceration, how unexpected it is to discover that Prison from the Inside Out is a book about love. Through Mecca’s extraordinary gift for human connection and Simone’s commitment to holding that gift at the center of his stories, we learn about the sustaining and redemptive power of family, profound friendship, tough but caring mentorship, and small acts of human kindness. Somehow Mecca manages to steer clear of trouble and to get close to people, whether he is hanging in the yard, working in the clothes house, or slaughtering hogs on work release. He shows us that you can find and provide compassion even in the harshness of prison.
How appropriate that this book is an imprint of HKF.
– Lucy Suchman – Professor of Anthropology, Lancaster University
Lydia Davis, winner of the Man Booker International Prize and MacArthur Fellow, noted author –
Lydia Davis, winner of the Man Booker International Prize and MacArthur Fellow, noted author, says of Prison From The Inside Out:
“Forceful, vivid, and utterly captivating. Every voice is fully alive, opinionated, smart, honest, articulate, and human – especially that of Mecca, the complex, thoughtful figure at the center.”
Mr. James Leone US Marine and former supervisor, Department of Public Safety’s Piedmont Correctional facility in Salisbury, NC. –
“You have a lot to say to me and anyone who picks up this book. I’m honored to be in your story.”
Jaki Shelton Green –
In his many years of incarceration, William ‘Mecca” Elmore realized that words are more powerful than bars. This is also a love story dedicated to resistance, resilience, hope, unconditional love, and humility. – Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate, Board of Directors HKF