Poetry can address our most intimate, frightened, hopeful selves. Langille found this to be true as she introduced poems to men and women in prison and gave writing assignments based on the discussions these poems inspired. Over and over participants shared private moments of self-awareness. The support they gave each other and the stories they told were profound. This book puts to rest many of the myths we have about inmates. It confirms both that people cannot be reduced to their worst deeds and that creative expression has a central place in the process of rehabilitation. Most pointedly, Langille's work reveals how, by failing the men and women behind bars, the prison system harms us all.
Participants in these workshops were complicated people. As Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who fights for the wrongfully accused on death row, says, "People are more than the worst thing we've ever done ... Even if you kill someone, you're not just a killer." Doing Time makes us rethink the myths we have about inmates and gives us insights into the force of trauma and the power of dignity. We get a glimpse of what goes on in a prison system and we learn, as Langille learned, from the men and women she worked with.