Download The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family Audiobook

The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family Audiobook, by Sylvia A. Harvey Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Sylvia A. Harvey Narrator: Janina Edwards Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2020 ISBN: 9781549101540
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A searing exposé of the effects of the mass incarceration crisis on families-including the 2.7 million American children who have a parent locked up


In The Shadow System, award-winning journalist Sylvia A. Harvey follows the fears, challenges, and small victories of three families struggling to live within the confines of a brutal system. In Florida, a 20-year-old black man tries to maintain a relationship with his daughter despite a sentence of life without parole. In Kentucky, where the opioid epidemic has led to the increased incarceration of women, many of whom are white, one mother fights for custody of her children. In Mississippi, a wife steels herself for her husband's thirty-ninth year in prison and does her best to keep their sons close.


Through these stories, Harvey reveals a shadow system of laws and regulations enacted to dehumanize the incarcerated and profit off their families--from mandatory sentencing laws, to restrictions on prison visitation, to astronomical charges for brief phone calls.


The Shadow System is an eye-opening account of the way incarceration has impacted generations of American families; it delivers a galvanizing clarion call to fix this broken system.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “My brother was imprisoned for 30 years. I know firsthand just how devastating the impact of imprisonment is on a family. Sylvia A. Harvey’s The Shadow System is an emotionally powerful and devastating analysis of how the prison system punishes and profits from families caught in its clutches. This urgent book makes us aware that the some of the heaviest costs of incarceration are borne by children and families.”

    Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A black journalist with firsthand experience of the incarceration system’s impact on families, especially children, reveals its many wrongs…with adequate statistics to back up her arguments…A solid combination of research, compassion, and anger that sheds light on a highly flawed system.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Sylvia A. Harvey reports at the intersection of race, class, and policy. Her work has appeared in The Nation, VQR, Elle, Colorlines, the Feminist Wire, the New York Post, and more. She is the recipient of a National Headliner Award and a National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence award. A native of Oakland, California, she holds a BA degree in sociology from Columbia University and a MS in journalism from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

About the Narrator

Janina Edwards, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a native of Chicago and a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts acting program. Her 2016 performance of Voice of Freedom was a finalist for the Audie Award.