IPC Brief- Book Review-May/2012


This book is generally based on the ordeal following the Mariel boat Specifically, the authors center on the detainees eventual take over of the housing units at  the Oakdale Detention Center and the Federal prison in Alabama they had been placed in while waiting for their transportation back  to Cuba,lift  that landed in Miami back in 1980. As of the original arrivals were processed ,  some 2700 of the “Marielitos” were detained to await re-patriation.

It was fear of this re-repatriation that prompted riots at the two facilities where the detainees were being held. The book goes into extremely well documented detail on the specific reasons for the  first of the historical context leading to the Mariel boatlift. And, the initial contested secret agreement of the Cuban government to accept the prisoners only to then reverse it’s position due to the leak of the agreement details by Miami radio stations.

Then the narrative focuses on the specific situations at the institutions and the specifics that sparked and, then  made it possible for the prisoners to take over both institutions. The authors went into painstaking detail to lay out every little item related to the riots and, the outlook from the Cuban side.  Finally, the authors add it all up into guide like specifics on the crisis management and negotiating techniques that used to bring everything to its eventual “happy”conclusion.

The book presents every single fact with a distinct voice. with captivating quotations that take the reader directly to the point. And, though there is always the risk that a book such as this may resemble more an academic rendition of history, this one engages the readers and sets him or her in the center of a web of dramatic events. The intricacies, obstacles and , “saving graces” of  every situation are masterfully depicted, leading the reader through a fascinating stage during which the Federal Prison System learned some very hard lessons.

Though the authors warn of the potential for similar situations to develop, it also offers itself as a guide for F.P.S.  and other  law enforcement agencies to deal with such an eventuality. Judging by the historic data since and, leading up to 2012, perhaps the book has achieved more success in the prevention of other such situations  than we will ever really know.

Edited by Peter L. Nacci, Ph.D and co-authored by Thomas J. Fagan, Ph.D.,Gustavo Fernandez, Ph. D., Loren Karacki, M.A., Barbara Owen, Ph. D. and, John W. Roberts, Ph. D. This book was prepared in 1988 but, was restricted until 1997 when it was modified for publication after a Freedom of Information Act request. The edition was slightly edited 1n 2008 and otherwise is the original manuscript.

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