Fugitive

I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! is the amazing true story of one man's search for meaning, fall from grace, and eventual victory over injustice.

In 1921, Robert E. Burns was a shell-shocked and penniless veteran who found himself at the mercy of Georgia's barbaric penal system when he fell in with a gang of petty thieves. Sentenced to six to ten years' hard labor for his part in a robbery that netted less than $6.00, Burns was shackled to a county chain gang. After four months of backbreaking work, he made a daring escape, dodging shotgun blasts, racing through swamps, and eluding bloodhounds on his way north.

For seven years Burns lived as a free man. He married and became a prosperous Chicago businessman and publisher. When he fell in love with another woman, however, his jealous wife turned him in to the police, who arrested him as a fugitive from justice. Although he was promised lenient treatment and a quick pardon, he was back on a chain gang within a month. Undaunted, Burns did the impossible and escaped a second time, this time to New Jersey. He was still a hunted man living in hiding when this book was first published in 1932.

The book and its movie version, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1933, shocked the world by exposing Georgia's brutal treatment of prisoners. I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! is a daring and heartbreaking book, an odyssey of misfortune, love, betrayal, adventure, and, above all, the unshakable courage and inner strength of the fugitive himself.
A RIVETING, GROUNDBREAKING ACCOUNT OF HOW THE WAR ON CRIME HAS
TORN APART INNER-CITY COMMUNITIES

Forty years in, the tough on crime turn in American politics has spurred a prison boom of historic proportions that disproportionately affects Black communities. It has also torn at the lives of those on the outside. As arrest quotas and high tech surveillance criminalize entire blocks, a climate of fear and suspicion pervades daily life, not only for young men entangled in the legal system, but for their family members and working neighbors.
Alice Goffman spent six years in one Philadelphia neighborhood, documenting the routine stops, searches, raids, and beatings that young men navigate as they come of age. In the course of her research, she became roommates with Mike and Chuck, two friends trying to make ends meet between low wage jobs and the drug trade. Like many in the neighborhood, Mike and Chuck were caught up in a cycle of court cases, probation sentences, and low level warrants, with no clear way out. We observe their girlfriends and mothers enduring raids and interrogations, "clean" residents struggling to go to school and work every day as the cops chase down neighbors in the streets, and others eking out a living by providing clean urine, fake documents, and off the books medical care. This fugitive world is the hidden counterpoint to mass incarceration, the grim underside of our nation's social experiment in punishing Black men and their families. While recognizing the drug trade's damage, On The Run reveals a justice system gone awry: it is an exemplary work of scholarship highlighting the failures of the War on Crime, and a compassionate chronicle of the families caught in the midst of it.

"A remarkable feat of reporting . . . The level of detail in this book and Goffman's ability to understand her subjects' motivations are astonishing—and riveting."—The New York Times Book Review

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