I write about crime, punishment, and various other subjects. I live in Austin and leave as often as I can.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Meet the Texas Prisoners Who Read 'Crime & Punishment'
“It’s a story about the difference between the head and the heart,” says Brian Troy. The story is Crime and Punishment by the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, and though it was a difficult read for Troy, the themes were familiar to him. Along with a dozen other men wearing dark blue scrubs, Troy is sitting in a large concrete classroom at the Cleveland Correctional Center in rural East Texas, about an hour north of Houston.
Everyone in the room, all of them convicted criminals currently serving out their sentences, had been assigned to read Dostoevsky’s epic as part of a yearlong course on business skills offered by the Houston nonprofit Prison Entrepreneurship Program. They’re all nodding along as Troy compares his life to that of the main character. “Raskolnikov rationalized killing this pawnbroker,” he says, describing the book’s seminal moment. “I got into this situation trying to rationalize: bend a rule here, bend a rule there, and then it piles up.”