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jailhouse doc book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

In his humorous memoir, Jailhouse Doc: A Doctor in the County Jail, William Wright, M.D. recounts many of his experiences treating the maladies common among inmates. After retiring from his career as an ear surgeon, he quickly grew bored. When he saw an advertisement for a correctional facility in need of a doctor, he decided to give it a try, which led to his position in a maximum security prison (he wrote Maximum Insecurity about his experience there), before working in a county jail.

Most people will never set foot in a jail, let alone work there. As such, Dr. Wright’s insights offer a peek into a world that is often unseen. While much of the work is unsavory and unappreciated, I found myself often laughing out loud reading Dr. Wright’s accounts–always told with a humorous twist. Inmates he treated ranged from relatively benign homeless people to drug addicts and felons. Besides sharing the obvious ailments one might expect among inmates, he addresses some of the cons inmates employ to get what they want. Dr. Wright also dishes on everything from hack cosmetics and the infamous food, to memorable inmates, prison politics and much much more. This was not a long book, but I found myself reading it slowly because he packed so much into each short chapter.

I always enjoy stories that help me see the world from a different perspective. This is one such piece. Over the years, Dr. Wright must have been asked many questions…both silly and serious about his work and he addresses it all in these pages. After reading his memoir, I feel like I have a better grasp of some of the challenges people face in that environment and more respect for their difficult work. It many ways, jails construct their own culture with their own social norms, hierarchy, monetary system and expectations. This book explores this subculture of society and allows us all a glimpse of understanding. It would be an excellent book for anyone in the medical or legal professions as well as those involved in justice related work. In all reality though, anyone who wants to understand the world a little better would appreciate it and the humorous delivery makes it easy to recommend.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Wright, M.D. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.