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Adjunct Instructor Mary Looman Publishes Book on Prison Culture

a look inside prison culture

Mary D. Looman, a psychologist for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and adjunct instructor of Criminal Justice for the College of Liberal Studies, co-authored a book that will be released by the Oxford University Press this summer. In A Country Called Prison, she and John Carl propose a paradigm shift in the way that American society views mass incarceration.

Weaving together sociological and psychological principles, theories of political reform, and real-life stories from experiences working in prison and with at-risk families, Looman and Carl form a foundation of understanding to demonstrate that prison is more than an institution built of fences and policies — it is a culture. Prison continues well after incarceration, as ex-felons leave correctional facilities (and often return to impoverished neighborhoods) without money or legal identification of American citizenship. Trapped in the isolation of poverty, these legal aliens turn to illegal ways of providing for themselves – and, in consequence, are often reimprisoned.

With their book, Looman and Carl present the case that America is facing a situation that is unsustainable. We are facing an incarceration epidemic that requires a new perspective to eradicate it. A Country Called Prison offers concrete, feasible, economical suggestions to reform the criminal justice system as a whole, and in particular the prison system to help prisoners return to a healthier life after incarceration.

Readers interested in ordering a copy of this book can do so here.

The College of Liberal Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite bachelor's and master's degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.


  1.' John D Mathis Sr says:

    Drs Looman and Carl are correct in their presentation of issues in CRJ. Back in 1992 I formulated a recidivism reduction program while employed at NC DOP. It was so effective it was terminated, as it would lead to loss of inmate populations, hence reducing the need for more BUDGET and staff. Prisons are a HUGH industry and source of political patronage, hence the defacto plan to continue and enlarge them…..In 1972-73 I wrote a paper on society issues, that concluded…’we are products of our environments and sum total of our experiences’ but no one seems to have picked up on this, as I do not have many letters behind my name….

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