I've been learning about prisons and how they affect people for years now, since my first post-college job at a halfway house for former Illinois State Penitentiary inmates. As DH can attest, there were days in that job that left me completely drained - people come out of prison broken, there's no way around it.
My thesis looks at some of the bigger-picture problems with prisons, but you don't want to read my thesis (definitely not now - the data analysis is a shambles). Instead, you should take a glance at this infographic about the "Land of the Free".
The United States locks up more people per capita - and more people in sheer numbers - than China. Oh, and that fun fact didn't even make it in to the infographic.
Why aren't we protesting in the streets about this? Good question.