My reaction to the book Inside Out by Harry Camisa and Jim Franklin was a good one. I really enjoyed reading this book. I was on and off about a job in corrections and this book is really something I think people interested in this field should read, it is just such an eye opener to what really can happen in this career. I think the part that caught my eye the most, and really held my attention to this book was the stories about executions witnessed. The craziest one was about the first execution witnessed and the sounds of the mans bare chest smacking against the restraint straps while the electricity was sent through his body.
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I can imagine how horrifying that could’ve been for someone new in the field at that time. Trenton, one of the oldest, and toughest, maximum security facilities. One inmates story who I enjoyed was Kayo. Kayo was a 6 foot 1, 250 pound man known in the streets as “The King of the Loansharks”. He was one of the most feared men in the New York City area. Kayo was part of the mob since his early twenties and wasn’t the smartest man out there.. in a trial against him murdering a stockbroker he went and represented himself.
He had received 30-44 years in the federal pen. Another inmate story which was pretty interesting was the first man Harry had ever seen executed, Theodore Walker. Walker was a young black male who had committed first degree murder on a young woman over robbery. He had been executed 11 1/2 months after the crime was committed. This is what makes me love this book. Justice was delivered so quickly back in the fifties. This story makes you think about, wow 11 1/2 months after? Criminals today are on death row for years, and years.
It makes you wonder if the justice system got weaker, or the criminals just got stronger. I love the emotions expressed by Harry who talks about what most other normal humans would probably think when thinking
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of a person being executed. Harry says he had always pictured this inmates walking to the chair crying, and begging for their lives, but in reality none of them did, most never spoke a word and sat down with ease. When I read about the little to no emotion in the inmates walks to their death, I wondered, do you ever
think its to not show weakness with the Warden, and officers around? Or do these men truly feel nothing? I also found it quite odd that the author explains that most men become “holy”, or rather “religious” before their execution date arrives. Again brought some questions to my mind, in my opinion I think most practiced religion before being put to death for hopes of acceptance into heaven. The description of the execution room was something that I found very depressing. He says it was brick, with dull green paint, few dim lights, and chairs with a drape hung across ..
The men entered through a small metal door. I drew this image up in my head while reading this part. It sounds like something out of a horror movie! Harry states about how theres supposed to be at least 12 witnesses, but more commonly there was around 15-20. It was small, and crowded with people awaiting the “show. ” I think the only part that gives me chills about this book was hearing about the whole idea of the sponge on the head, and the cloth over the face and tied around the neck, that just freaks me out!
This book not only tells of stories from the laws point of view but he gives passages from letters, books, and notes left my inmates from what they believed and saw go on in the facility. I personally found the story of the 12 month murder spree of Richard Biegenwald to be very disturbing. I read on the tiny news-printed pictures and seeing the faces of victims so young be taken away by such a horrible tragedy. This man murdered so many people, and escaped the death penalty so many times it just blew my mind.
He even was found guilty for killing a municipal prosecutor. Another shocking twist was when officials dug up bodies in backyards and started identifying them. Its freaky that the one news paper article was about a teenage girl who disappeared from Brick Township, I live here! My absolute most favorite thing about this book was the real reprinted articles of news clippings that were included, it made it all SO much realer!!!! I couldn’t imagine opening the Asbury Park Press tomorrow morning and seeing those stories like that..
But its just all so interesting. Its surprising to hear that inmates actually had escaped, or at least dug tunnels and tried too. I feel like to go through all that trouble you must have one pumping adrenaline rush for something on the outside- whether its killing, drugs, or robbery! I could never imagine people actually doing that, I thought this was stuff that happened only in movies, digging tunnels! Like it sounds like SUCH a hassle, just to pretty much guaranteed your going to be captured again shortly anyhow.
After reading the book which took me two nights, I talked about it with my mom, and even researched a little more about it. I really, really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Its such a personal, yet unique story on how this prison experience affects people. I like how Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Camisa tell the story of inmates which whom they developed relationships with while being a guard there, people who they would have never crossed paths with if not for this tough job.
Camisa witnessed 13 electrocutions, was taken hostage twice and stopped the escape of 5 violent felons which just blows my mind away. Its crazy to think this man just sat down and writes this so nonchalantly -but these things really happened to him! Nevertheless it was just an amazing story that I am glad to have had the opportunity to read. I already mentioned it to a friend of mine! Nonfiction stories are truly the greatest, but when it comes to a man telling his own experiences in Trenton’s toughest facility, nothing beats that.See More on Literature