Ben Austen at Harvard Book Store


Parole, Prison, and the Possibility of Change

in conversation with KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD


November 30, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes BEN AUSTEN—journalist and author of High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing—for a discussion of his new book Correction: Parole, Prison, and the Possibility of Change. He will be joined in conversation by KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD—author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America.

About Correction

The United States, a single country, locks up a quarter of the world’s incarcerated population. More than 850,000 Americans are currently on parole. Yet the parole system is opaque, a confounding process riddled with inequities. Few understand parole as the extraordinary pivot point it is—both in the country’s changing conceptions of justice and in the cycle of mass incarceration.

Through its portraits of two men, imprisoned for murder, and the parole board that holds their freedom in the balance, Correction offers a behind-the-curtain look at the process of parole. Austen’s engaging storytelling forces a reckoning with some of the most profound questions underlying the country’s values around crime and punishment: What must someone who commits a terrible act do to get a second chance? What does incarceration seek to accomplish? An illuminating work of narrative nonfiction, Correction challenges us to consider for ourselves why and who we punish—and how we might find a way out of an era of mass imprisonment.

Praise for Correction

"This is everything you could hope for in a book: an engrossing narrative of two men doing hard time, a deeply-researched history of incarceration in America, and a damn good read. Austen’s exhaustive reporting forces us to consider anew the nature of violence, the capriciousness of the justice system, our belief in second chances, and the purpose of punishment altogether. Correction ranks among the very best books on life inside and outside of prison I have ever read." —Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted

"Correction is a marvel of meticulous reporting. Ben Austen has crafted an unsparing, vivid and deeply human portrait not only of the two men at the heart of the story, but the entire system that will determine their fate. If we are to have an honest dialogue about criminal justice in this nation we must grapple with our deeply flawed parole practices. This book should be at the center of that conversation." —Jelani Cobb, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and dean of the Columbia Journalism School

Correction is non-fiction storytelling at its finest. The award-winning journalist Ben Austen follows the harrowing fifty-year journey of two men, convicted of horrific crimes, and their path to parole. And yet the question of whether they will be released or not, or of their innocence, is really a poignant and powerful story about our guilt for building the most punitive and shameful punishment system in the world, and our willingness, as a society, to change.” —Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Ben Austen
Ben Austen

Ben Austen

Ben Austen is a journalist from Chicago. He is the author of High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing, which was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction and named one of the best books of 2018 by Booklist, Mother Jones and the public libraries of Chicago and St. Louis. A former editor at Harper's Magazine, Ben is the co-host of the podcast Some of My Best Friends Are. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Wired and many other publications.

Photo credit: Ben Austen

Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy, and Director of the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), and a contributor to a 2014 National Research Council study. Khalil co-hosts the Pushkin podcast “Some of My Best Friends Are,” and is a frequent reviewer and commentator in national print and broadcast media outlets, such as the Washington Post, National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, MSNBC, and the New York Times, which includes his sugar essay for The 1619 Project.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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