Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Abbott, Jack Henry (1944–2002)
Jack Henry Abbot is remembered as a complex and controversial figure in the history of U.S. prisons. In 1978, Abbott, while in prison, initiated a lengthy correspondence with author Norman Mailer, who was at the time writing The Executioner's Song (1979), a fictionalized biography of executed murderer Gary Gilmore. Abbott and Gilmore served time together in the Utah state penitentiary. Mailer not only was eager to learn more about Gilmore but also took an interest in Abbott's own writings. He was, apparently, impressed by Abbott's ability to convey the stark reality of prison life and was instrumental in having Abbott's letters published in the prestigious New York Review of Books . Self-educated, Abbott delved into the revolutionary philosophies of Mao and Stalin and wrote critically about violence and racism in America and in its prisons. In the Belly of the Beast Abbott's collection of writings culminated in the publication of ...