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Lauren Kessler

Lauren Kessler is a professor emerita in School of Journalism and Communication. Her book A Grip of Time: When Prison is Your Life takes readers into a world most know little about―a maximum-security prison―and into the minds and hearts of the men who live there.

"A Grip of Time (prison slang for a very long sentence behind bars) takes readers into a world most know little about—a maximum-security prison—and into the minds and hearts of the men who live there. These men, who are serving out life sentences for aggravated murder, join a fledgling Lifers' Writing Group started by award-winning author Lauren Kessler. Over the course of three years, meeting twice a month, the men reveal more and more about themselves, their pasts, and the alternating drama and tedium of their incarcerated lives. As they struggle with the weight of their guilt and wonder if they should hope for a future outside prison walls, Kessler struggles with the fiercely competing ideas of rehabilitation and punishment, forgiveness and blame that are at the heart of the American penal system. Gripping, intense, and heartfelt, A Grip of Time: When Prison Is Your Life shows what a lifetime with no hope of release looks like up-close." -description from publisher's website

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“With A Grip of Time, Lauren Kessler takes us on a compelling, intensely personal journey into the rarely glimpsed end point of our justice system. Through the lives and poignant stories of lifers, Kessler reveals the insidious truth behind America’s world-record mass incarceration: The system is not, as many believe, failing at its job. It's doing exactly what it was designed to do—dehumanize inmates and leave them ill-equipped to rejoin society. What dignity, meaning, and success these lifers achieve come despite the system’s design.”

– Edward Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t