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Book Review: ‘Prison Stories: Living the Life of a Prison Chaplain’ by Harold F. Green

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I was excited to read Prison Stories by Harold F. Green because I have my own crazy passion for true crime. I thought it would be really interesting to see what it is like for a man of God to be inside of a prison and what good could really come from a prison chaplain and inmates.

prisionstoriesAs mentioned in the memoir,  when I drive by a prison I too sometimes think that it is filled with worthless humans who were better off removed from the earth. Author Green brings this up in a chapter in the book and ends with asking the reader to reconsider and pray for the prisoner with hope that the hopeless could change. This is one of the positive sides of showing God’s love in the most undesired communities, which you don’t see every day.

I found Prison Stories to be almost a bit too ‘preachy’ for my taste. I hoped for more story-telling than Bible quotes. I also found that there were lots of inconsistencies throughout. Some parts of the book were written with a story in mind and some history and then others were more like journal entries, right out of a diary. I was often distracted and sometimes confused.

Another inconsistency that I noticed was that there were some chapter titles with quotations and others without. It seemed at the beginning the writing style was going to be pretty clear and to the point but the lack of editing completely turned me off.

There was even a chapter that ended abruptly and a previous chapter was inserted at the end. I instantly noticed and was taken back. This happened on page 82 and the chapter is titled “The Role of a Prison Chapel.” (This particular chapter title did not have the quotation marks where the next referenced chapter did.) The ending of this chapter was rerouted back to another almost 30 pages earlier, leaving the later chapter without any closure.

I flipped back through the previous chapters until I found the exact ending to the other chapter I had already completed. On page 59, the chapter titled “Jail House Religion” was about an inmate who was “saved” in jail and let out after giving his testimony, later to find that this inmate was released and made it back into the system after committing a terrible crime.

This book needs a lot of editing and proofreading. The lack of this really downgraded my opinion, far past my own views of it being a bit preachy. I feel the level of spirituality or religion is in the eyes of the reader. I had no issues setting my personal spiritual views aside to really dig into this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance.

Overall, the idea of this memoir by Harold F. Green is really special. I think I got the basic idea from Prison Stories that Mr. Green wanted the world to get. Everyone needs love and deserves forgiveness.

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About Cristina Lanzi