Although written with a touch of humor, Prison Clown is a serious book that sheds light on the reason the United States leads the world in the numbers of incarcerated people--and way too many for nonviolent offenses. As Richard Keith explains, murky cases with questionable witnesses can lead to average citizens serving time as inmates when they're neither hardened criminals nor pose a threat to society. Keith exposes the myth that minimum security Federal prisons are "country clubs." Through his series of stories, he reveals substandard, often inhumane treatment of those we so easily ship off to prison--and then usually forget about.
Prison Clown also provides glimpses into an environment unlike any other, a place where the chronically poor and under-educated share their lives with formerly wealthy and privileged professionals. Race and religion matter, sort of, but finding ways to get through the days and scrounge up some decent food is the common denominator for inmates. Keith adds the compassionate voice that's too often missing in books about prison, but that grant little attention to the prisoners themselves.
In the beginning of the book, Keith warns, "If this could happen to me, it could happen to you." The book makes it clear he's right.