Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All

Dreams from the Monster Factory tells the true story of Sunny Schwartz s extraordinary work in the criminal justice system and how her profound belief in people s ability to change is transforming the San Francisco jails and the criminals incarcerated there With an immediacy made possible by a twenty seven year career, Schwartz immerses the reader in the troubling and comDreams from the Monster Factory tells the true story of Sunny Schwartz s extraordinary work in the criminal justice system and how her profound belief in people s ability to change is transforming the San Francisco jails and the criminals incarcerated there With an immediacy made possible by a twenty seven year career, Schwartz immerses the reader in the troubling and complex realities of U.S jails, the monster factories places that foster violence, rage and, ultimately, better criminals But by working in the monster factories, Schwartz also discovered her dream of a criminal justice system that empowers victims and reforms criminals Charismatic and deeply compassionate, Sunny Schwartz grew up on Chicago s south side in the 1960s She fought with her family, struggled through school and floundered as she tried to make something of herself Bucking expectations of failure, she applied to a law school that didn t require a college degree, passed the bar and began her life s work in the criminal justice system Eventually she grew disheartened by the broken, inflexible system, but instead of quitting, she reinvented it, making jail a place that could change people for the better In 1997, Sunny launched the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project RSVP , a groundbreaking program for the San Francisco Sheriff s Department RSVP, which has cut recidivism for violent rearrests by up to 80 percent, brings together victims and offenders in a unique correctional program that empowers victims and requires offenders to take true responsibility for their actions and eliminate their violent behavior Sunny Schwartz s faith in humanity, her compassion and her vision are inspiring In Dreams from the Monster Factory she goes beyond statistics and sensational portrayals of prison life to offer an intimate, harrowing and revelatory chronicle of crime, punishment and, ultimately, redemption.
Dreams from the Monster Factory A Tale of Prison Redemption and One Woman s Fight to Restore Justice to All Dreams from the Monster Factory tells the true story of Sunny Schwartz s extraordinary work in the criminal justice system and how her profound belief in people s ability to change is transforming the

  • Title: Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All
  • Author: Sunny Schwartz David Boodell
  • ISBN: 9781416569817
  • Page: 325
  • Format: Hardcover
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    1 thought on “Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All”

    1. The author, a criminal defense attorney turned prisoner activist, talks about her rough childhood, her unlikely success in law school, and her 25+ year work in building truly rehabilitative, not punitive, prisons. Her program, the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project, uses vocational classes but also group meetings in which violent inmates confront their feelings and actions, and use jargon such as “can I get an agreement on…” or “this feeling is deadly peril” to control their feelings [...]

    2. This was one of the better books I've read in the past year, and one of my favorite memoirs ever. Sunny Schwartz has spent her career in the San Francisco criminal justice system and helped create a program for violent offenders that really gets to the core causes of their acts, and was proven to decrease repeat offenses. Schwartz has selected great anecdotes from her childhood, her education and her work that make this a compelling read. And it's hard not to be impressed by the overall story of [...]

    3. Dreams from the Monster Factory is a lively, interesting, captivating book that I couldn't put down. Sunny Schwartz has a lot of revolutionary ideas about men, violence, and crime.So why only two stars? Though I understand referring to prisons as "monster factories," Sunny refers to imprisoned people as monsters outside of that phrase quite often. There's a clear personal struggle in the book, in which the author grapples with her perceptions of the inmates she works with, but I don't feel like [...]

    4. Sunny Schwartz grew up in a working class Jewish family on the South Side of Chicago. Her family was ruled by her father's rages, Schwartz barely skated through school, and bailed as soon as she could. Skipping college, she was accepted to New College's Law School in San Francisco became a lawyer. It was while she was in school that she first became involved with prisoners in the San Francisco County Jails, working as a volunteer prisoner advocate. After passing the bar, she worked briefly in a [...]

    5. An eye-opening glimpse into the American prison system. Written by a lawyer and coordinator of a prison programs group, Schwartz describes her initial meetings with violent offenders and her motivations behind changing the system. In addition to improving the lives of prisoners, the programs attempt to reduce the high recidivism rate with great success. This, in turn, benefits all of society: including the ex-cons new neighbours and taxpayers who have fewer repeat offenders to support.

    6. Schwartz tells a candid, no-nonsense story about how she came to work with violent men behind bars, and how she challenged both these men and their captors to be better human beings. In recounting misfortunes, mistakes, mixed motives, and victories, Schwartz is as tough and loving with herself as she is with her family, colleagues, adversaries, and clients/students. Thus her narrative embodies the restorative justice mindset she's brought to SF jails.

    7. Sunny Schwartz grew up in a rough-and-tumble Jewish family in Chicago, escaping both her warehouse-style special ed classroom and her truant officer by ditching school in favor of watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Perhaps, then, no one was more suprised than those who knew her as a child when she went on to practice law in California--where her readiness to confront any conflict head-on was a help rather than a barrier to success. In fact, within a few decades Sunny succeeded in building a mod [...]

    8. 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:5.0 out of 5 stars A true heroine, March 17, 2009In one of his interviews after landing Flight 1549 safely on the Hudson, Captain Sullenberger said that he didn't consider himself a hero because he didn't choose to be in that situation; he was simply doing his job. He humbly pointed to all the unsung heroes -- our teachers, nurses, and many other unglamorous professionals -- who should get credit for the dedicated work they do every day, giving o [...]

    9. Seems very true to me, beautiful and realistic about possible change in the prison system.Tells how Schwartz develops a humanizing program in a San Francisco jail that gets at the root of inmates’ violence (great to read this alongside James Gilligan’s VIOLENCE).She’s humble about the program and not in love with success stories; she’s also honest about her own personal struggles with anger as she develops this restorative justice program.At root, she really says something about how we d [...]

    10. While not perfect, it is thought-provoking and a quick readSunny Schwartz is a Chicago-born lawyer who has worked in the San Francisco jail system for 30+ years. This book is a combination of a personal biography and professional recommendations for our nations over-worked, overcrowded and floundering jail and prison systems. Schwartz is not a hand-holding, excuse-making prisoner advocate. She notes several times that she wants criminals to be punished. She notes: "I completely understand the ob [...]

    11. Book Review for: Dreams from the Monster FactoryBy: Sunny Schwartz This book is about Sunny Schwartz and how she grew up in a dysfunctional family in the Southside of Chicago in the 1960s, but didn’t end up like others. Many others ended up in jail and so did she, but as lawyer. She grew up with two perfect older brothers, her mom and dad. She was the one in the family who cut classes, got bad grades, and never really did what her parents told her.After she left home to live with her brother s [...]

    12. I'm sure David Boodell helped write this book, but Sunny certainly deserves a lot of credit. Even if only three people benefited from her programs, she's one up. She quotes statistics often, for instance, 80% of women inside have drug problems, and I don't doubt that she's correct. She uses existing programs like Sober Treatment Empowered by Recovery (SISTER). For less violent men she uses MANALIVE. Addicts are "cunning, baffling, powerful". She began the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RS [...]

    13. Author Sunny Schwartz takes us inside the San Francisco County Jail system in "Dreams from the Monster Factory," detailing her time as a legal intern, an attorney, and ultimately a program director for the jail system. Schwartz introduces the concept of reparative justice, and violence prevention, to the jail system with a degree of success that both surprised and moved me. She tells the stories of hardened inmates making reparations, and learning from one another but also tells of the failures [...]

    14. This is an amazing book. It is so real and hearfelt. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. These programs they have set up in SF jails are amazing. This book changed my view on how we treat prisoners and what we need to do as a society to change out justice system. She doesn't ever excuse there behavoir. What they do is help them take responsiblity for there actions so they will stop commiting crimes. This in the end helps everyone. All they want to do is give them a conscience. Feel something ins [...]

    15. This book was okay. I found a lot of it interesting and it is always neat to hear about prisoners (as violent as bad as they may be). The program that the author set up was a good idea and tries to rehabilitate prisoners instead of just punishing them which most prison systems currently do. At some points the author made it more about her and her own life story which wasn't too interesting. You are a Jewish lesbian; cool. I do not need to be reminded about it throughout the book. Would recommend [...]

    16. I have to learn this lesson over and over: Beware the "with." Schwartz has an interesting story--accepting her complex family, stuggling to graduate from law school, establishing innovative anti-violence programs in a San Francisco prison. If only her "with"--the ghost writer David Boodell--didn't try so hard to make it sound like Sunny writing. His clumsy attempt to dissolve into the background and use Schwartz's voice nearly destroyed the book. Schwartz's descriptions of the programs in the pr [...]

    17. Great information on the program Schwartz began (RSVP) at a California prison to help violent male offenders learn how to live outside the culture of male violence. I wish, though, that the book would have focused on that in more detail, less on her personal life and history. Usually I don't mind a personal balance, but to me it just seemed off here and detracted from the detail I wanted on the prison parts of the story.

    18. Definitely worth reading. This memoir combines one woman's struggle to come to terms with herself and her family (like most memoirs) with the development of a fascinating and innovative program in the San Francisco jails to work on restorative justice and true rehabilitation. The RSVP (Resolve to Stop the Violence) program has been an inspiration to me since I first heard of it, more than a decade ago. This memoir is a fast read - I read it in one night - and keeps you engaged.

    19. I really liked this book for what it was - a simply written account of a restorative justice program implemented in SF jail. However, since I do this type of work, I am interested in the nitty gritties of implementing a program like this (budget, coalition building, etc), but I realize that most people aren't. So, even though it wasn't what I wanted, I liked it. I do think, though, that it's a preaching to the choir book, but enjoyable for those of us in the choir :)

    20. Truly thought provoking. Sunny's work in the jails lead me to examine and question violence in our society. It's root causes, ways to reverse it and heal communities. I learned a lot about the jails systems and found myself critically thinking about what jail should look like, what it's purpose and aim should really be. It's definitely worth the read!

    21. Sunny Schwartz is a big-picture thinker who can go from the behavior of a few prisoners, to patterns in our justice system and our culture, and back to herself for deep understanding of her own views. It was inspiring to read about someone so committed to believing that people can change, and to hear about deeply violent individuals learning the tools for change, and changing.

    22. The best book about prison reform that I have ever read. What Sunny Schwartz has accomplished in San Francisco should happen all over the nation. I would love to assign Dreams from the Monster Factory and Mother California to everyone. I can't do it justice. Just go read it.

    23. Half a book-As a non-fiction primer on what can be done to reform the pitiful state of our correctional systems- A++!!Congratulations to the entire SF CA County system. I hope it can be sustained for everyone's sakeAs a bio of the author- sorry.

    24. It's fabulous. Not only is the topic of extreme interest to me, but the person writing this reminds me of the Joan Jett commentary from "The Runaways", which I also recommend. I mean, different content, but same tone.

    25. Enlightening and thought-provoking. In many ways, this is the story of Sunny Schwartz's personal Inferno. This book tells how her work took her into the dark depths of the California prison system and helped to change it, and herself, for the better.

    26. a very quick read and totally engaging true story - makes you want EVERY jail in America, and every pre-school and grade school to role model this kind of anti-violence and a local story to boot! Here's to courageous people.

    27. It's heart-warming to know how some violent criminals can change (and want to change) when they're given the opportunity and tools to do so. It's certainly better for all of society to offer programs like this in prison instead of just locking them in with other criminals till their time's up.

    28. I am very moved by Sunny's story and how she has helped violent inmates face their problems and with the programs she started become productive members of society.

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