Down in the Chapel tells the story of one week at Graterford Prison. We learn how the men at Graterford pass their time, care for themselves, and commune with their makers. We observe a variety of Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, and others, at prayer and in study and song. And we listen in as an interloping scholar of religion tries to make sense of it all.
When prisoners turn to God, they are often scorned as con artists who fake their piety, or pitied as wretches who cling to faith because faith is all they have left. Joshua Dubler goes beyond these stereotypes to show the religious life of a prison in all its complexity. One part prison procedural, one part philosophical investigation, Down in the Chapel explores the many uses prisoners make of their religions and weighs the circumstances that make these uses possible. Gritty and visceral, meditative and searching, it is an essential study of American religion in the age of mass incarceration.
Joshua Dubler is an assistant professor of religion at the University of Rochester and the coauthor of Bang! Thud: World Spirit from a Texas School Book Depository. He has also taught at Haverford College, Columbia University, and Villanova University's program at Graterford Prison.
Caught smuggling half a million euros’ worth of cocaine, Paul Keany was sexually assaulted by Venezuelan anti-drugs officers before being sentenced to eight years in the notorious Los Teques prison outside Caracas. There he was plunged into a nightmarish world of coke-fuelled killings, gun battles, stabbings, extortion and forced hunger strikes until finally, just over two years into his sentence, he gained early parole and embarked on a daring escape from South America . . .
Aided by his extensive prison diaries, Keany reveals the true horror of life inside Los Teques: a shocking underworld behind bars where inmates pay protection money to stay alive, prostitutes do the rounds and vast amounts of cocaine are smuggled in for cell-block bosses to sell on to prisoners for huge profits. The Cocaine Diaries is a remarkable story, told by Keany with honesty, courage and even humour, despite knowing that every day behind bars might have been his last.