Dying Inside

The HIV/AIDS Ward at Limestone Prison
Benjamin Fleury-Steiner
With Carla Crowder
A graphic exposé of the inhumane treatment of HIV-positive inmates in U.S. prisons


Dying Inside brings the reader face-to-face with the nightmarish conditions inside Limestone Prison's Dorm 16—the segregated HIV ward. Here, patients chained to beds share their space with insects and vermin in the filthy, drafty rooms, and contagious diseases spread like wildfire through a population with untreated—or poorly managed at best—HIV.

While Dorm 16 is a particularly horrific human rights tragedy, it is also a symptom of a disease afflicting the entire U.S. prison system. In recent decades, prison populations have exploded as Americans made mass incarceration the solution to crime, drugs, and other social problems even as privatization of prison services, especially health care, resulted in an overcrowded, underfunded system in which the most marginalized members of our society slowly wither from what the author calls "lethal abandonment."

This eye-opening account of one prison's failed health-care standards is a wake-up call, asking us to examine how we treat our forgotten citizens and compelling us to rethink the American prison system in this increasingly punitive age.

Benjamin Fleury-Steiner is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware.

Carla Crowder, a former reporter for the Birmingham News, has written extensively about prison .

Praise / Awards

  • "The HIV+ men incarcerated in Limestone Prison's Dorm 16 were put there to be forgotten. Not only do Benjamin Fleury-Steiner and Carla Crowder bring these men to life, Fleury-Steiner and Crowder also insist on placing these men in the middle of critical conversations about health policy, mass incarceration, and race. Dense with firsthand accounts, Dying Inside is a nimble, far-ranging and unblinking look at the cruelty inherent in our current penal policies."
    —Lisa Kung, Director, Southern Center for Human Rights

  • "In Dying Inside, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner takes us to the fundamental contradiction at the heart of mass imprisonment in America: our prisons hold not the most dangerous offenders, but the most disadvantaged Americans. The looming prison health crisis, documented here at its extreme, is a shocking stain on American values and a clear opportunity to rethink our carceral approach to security."
    —Jonathan Simon, Associate Dean for Jurisprudence and Social Policy and Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

  • "Dying Inside takes the reader deep into the capillaries of an American prison where health care personnel and members of nonprofit organizations struggle heroically against the forces of a broken health care system. It is a riveting account of a health crisis in a hidden prison facility that also connects to other dots of neglect related to returning veterans and Katrina victims to paint a panoramic view of America's health care crisis and what we as citizens must do to get out of it."
    —Michael Musheno, Professor of Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University and co-author of Deployed: How Reservists Bear the Burden of Iraq

  • "An important, bold, and humanitarian book."
    —Alison Liebling, Professor in Criminology, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

  • "This fresh and original study of the abusive, degrading, and inadequate treatment of segregated prisoners with HIV/AIDS in Alabama's Limestone prison should prick all of our consciences about the horrific consequences of the massive carceral state the United States has built over the last three decades."
    —Marie Gottschalk, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America

  • "In this readable and important book, Fleury-Steiner makes a compelling case that inmate health care in America's prisons and jails has reached the point of catastrophe. Anyone who cares about the way we treat the people we put behind bars should read this book."
    —Sharon Dolovich, Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law

  • "Dying Inside is a thorough and informative analysis of penal health care policy and practice in America. Fleury-Steiner's persuasive argument not only exposes the sins of commission and omission on prison cellblocks, but also does an excellent job of showing how these problems are the natural result of our nation's shortsighted and punitive criminal justice policy."
    —Allen Hornblum, Assistant Professor, Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University and author of Sentenced to Science: One Black Man's Story of Imprisonment in America

  • "This is a close-up, unblinking study of how prisoners sick with HIV/AIDS suffer the effects of public policies focused more on cost-cutting than on rehabilitation and humanity. Dying Inside effectively shows how oppressive practices evolve, and also, how they can be challenged and changed."
    —Doris Marie Provine, Professor, School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University and author of Unequal Under the Law

Look Inside

Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • 248 pages.
  • 2 figs.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02194-9

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  • ACLU National Prison Project, Alabama Department of Corrections, HIV/AIDS, Limestone Prison, Medical treatment of prisoners, Prison Health Services