The Invisible Walls of Dannemora - Michael H. Blaine
The infamous Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in 2015 became the site of one of the most famous prison breaks in modern American history. But the conditions that made possible the notorious escape and the massive manhunt that ensued had festered for many years.
Having earned the nickname of “Little Siberia”, the brutal winters contributed to the already depressing façade of the facility. During the long, dark hours, the wind howled outside and sounded like ghosts haunting the halls of the prison.
Dannemora had a proud past. Every employee chose to work there and there was always a transfer list of staff waiting to work there. It was a hard prison for hard criminals. Having housed the likes of mobster Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz, Rappers Tupac Shakur and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and countless other infamous criminals, the staff at the Clinton Correctional Facility knew how to handle even the toughest of men.
Like most prisons, Clinton was a place of routine. Each day was very much like the day before. It was a big, clunking machine that simply ran each day unless someone in the administration used poor judgment and tried to implement an unsafe change in policy or targeted the wrong staff member.
The author, Michael H. Blaine spent a career at the Clinton Correctional Facility. Having been an Officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant, his story reveals the changes he observed and what he experienced at each rank he earned. Refusing to compromise his principles and sickened by the downward spiral that Clinton was experiencing, he retired less than 10 1/2 months before the first successful escape at Dannemora happened on June 6, 2015.
My Review: Despite this book being released in the summer of last year, my review stems from listening to the audiobook, which is quite new. I feel as it's strongly underrated, considering it shows the inner workings of the American prison system in a way that's not meant to spare anyone's feelings. Michael Blaine was a correctional officer who met all sorts of criminals and knew every dirty detail of the way the prison was run. He doesn't go into much detail related to the escape, so if you're looking for that you'll be disappointed. He shows much more important things than that. This book was written for people with an open mind, for those who are not defensive of a system they don't know much about. He started his career at 19 years old and rose in rank fast and not undeservingly.
It's a biography but not quite. It has some whisps of true crime, corruption, and psychology. If you are interested in prison life you should stop watching prison documentaries for a couple of days and read or listen to this book instead. It's going to give you a vivid glimpse into prison life, much more than any documentary can do.
Imprint: Gaudium Publishing
Date of Publication: July 27, 2020