Jew in Jail
By Gary Goldstein
Uncertainty is a terrible thing. That is what I was experiencing while reading, Jew in Jail by Gary Goldstein. It wasn’t the content of the book I was uncertain about; it’s actually well written (although could have used another round of line editing). Goldstein is obviously an intelligent man who had made some poor life choices.
That is actually what this book is about: how Mr. Goldstein’s poor life choices led him down a path to an uncertain future. He is lucky that he ended up in jail and not dead, after his addictions took control of his thought process and he ends up a convicted felon, eventually entering into the New York State Correctional System.
What I was uncertain about were the following: 1) How I would review this book and 2) Whether or not Mr. Goldstein would grow as a person during the times he is incarcerated.
I had guessed about halfway through the book (which is a tad lengthy for what it is, at 550 pages) that he had been keeping a journal during his incarceration period. Not only was I correct, as it really read as such, but Mr. Goldstein’s journals gets confiscated at one point in time and he fought really hard to have them returned and the charges brought against him for their content, dropped. He was successful and made the intelligent decision to have them kept safe and sound by his sister.
He fought, unsuccessfully, for a transfer to a facility closer to his family in Brooklyn (he was in a prison that was nearly in Canada) citing religious reasons. He even had the revelation at one point that his tactics were wrong and that God wasn’t going to bless him in this request, due to his false reasons. He did however begin rebuilding what seemed to be a sincere relationship with God, which was prompted in memory of his father, who passed way just after he was indicted.
There were many moments in this portrayal of his time in jail that Goldstein’s attitude toward his incarceration and treatment as a prisoner was somewhat unfounded; if felt like he undermined the reason he was there. One could understand why the officers on staff singled him out and made his life difficult. He was paying for crimes committed that could have actually hurt people, despite his actual intentions.
He even points this fact out, several times; it is when he finally makes an effort to really stay under the radar, that things are easier for him as a prisoner. He seemed to attribute this to being transferred to another facility but, really, attitude is everything! It was a bit concerning that he chose to end the book where he did with no additional words on how things turned out…but maybe there will be a part two and he was merely keeping us hanging for a reason?
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a very personal account of prison life to readers. Goldstein certainly does a good job of laying out what doldrums he experienced as well as the dirty on his treatment. There are also positives where he exerts how truly rehabilitated some inmates seemed after serving time.
You can learn more about the book and it’s author at the following websites: