Chapter

The Rehabilitation of a Criminal “Genius” (1954–1960)

Theodore Hamm

in Rebel and a Cause

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224278
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925236 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520224278.003.0004
The Rehabilitation of a Criminal “Genius” (1954–1960)

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Key to Chessman's invention of himself as a rehabilitated man was the support he received from a group of influential criminologists, literary critics, and liberal intellectuals. Because he successfully expressed his criminal past and now offered his own theories on the crime problem, prominent criminologists welcomed him into their ranks. As Chessman himself knew, and the intellectuals who supported him absolutely realized, confession of the red light bandit's crimes would have placed him squarely in the category of sexual psychopath and outside the scope of rehabilitation. Prior to this subject, the connection between reading, writing, and rehabilitation was first made by prison reformers of the early twentieth century. During the Progressive Era, the holdings of prison libraries generally consisted of religious books.

Keywords: writing; rehabilitation; reading; prison; intellectuals

Chapter.  10656 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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