Joni Schwartz and John R. Chaney, "Gifts from the Dark: Learning from the Incarceration Experience" (Lexington Books, 2022)


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While in no way supporting the systemic injustices and disparities of mass incarceration, in Gifts from the Dark: Learning from the Incarceration Experience (Lexington Books, 2021), Joni Schwartz and John Chaney argue that we have much to learn from those who have been and are in prison. Schwartz and Chaney profile the contributions of literary giants, social activists, entrepreneurs, and other talented individuals who, despite the disorienting dilemma of incarceration, are models of adult transformative learning that positively impact the world. In focusing upon how men and women have chosen the worst moments of their lives as a baseline not to define, but to refine themselves, Gifts from the Dark promises to alter the limited mindset of incarceration as a solely one-dimensional, deficit event.

Joni Schwartz is professor of humanities at the City University of New York – LaGuardia Community College and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Graduate Studies Program.

John Chaney is assistant professor and director of Criminal Justice programs for City University of New York -- LaGuardia Community College.

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at

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