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Making Prisons Better Places

John D. Case was a prison warden based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He worked to improve the prison system through better training and pay for prison employees and an emphasis on inmate rehabilitation. He also advocates for the repealing of laws which he feels lead to unnecessary prison sentences.


Ann Rule on the "Stranger Beside" Her.

Ann Rule was a writer for True Crime magazine when she was assigned a story about a serial killer who turned out to be a former acquaintance of Rule's. Rule worked with Ted Bundy at a suicide prevention center. She had even reported suspicions about Bundy to police. Her account of Bundy's crimes and her time working with him is called "The Stranger Beside Me."


Connie Francis Returns to the Spotlight

Connie Francis took a seven-year hiatus from singing after surviving a rape, dealing with the murder of her brother, and battling several health problems. After so many tragedies, she feels like her old self again, and has begun performing once more.


Remembering the "Mayor of Castro Street"

Randy Shilts has a new biography about Harvey Milk, the openly-gay mayor of San Francisco who was assassinated at the age of 48. Shilts details Milk's coming out later in life and his adroitness as a unity-building politician.


A Convicted Murderer's "Fatal Vision"

Journalist Joe McGinniss's latest book investigates the Manson-family-style killing of Jeffrey MacDonald's daughters and pregnant wife. MacDonald was eventually convicted of the murders nine-and-a-half years later.


Director Robert Young

Before beginning production, Young spends weeks living the life of his movies' characters to more authentically capture their experiences. His films often center on the injustices committed against marginalized people.


The Life and Death of Nancy Spungen

In her new memoir, Deborah Spungen remembers her daughter, who was the girlfriend of the Sex Pistols' bass player Sid Vicious. Vicious confessed to murdering Nancy, but died of a drug overdose before his conviction.


An Ex-Con's Poetry

Etheridge Knight began writing poetry while serving a sentence for robbery. He talks with Fresh Air producer Danny Miller about how he draws inspiration from his past experiences as a former prisoner and drug addict.


Calvin Trillin Reports on "Killings" and the U.S.

Humorist and reporter Calvin Trillin is staff writer for the New Yorker and a humor columnist at The Nation. Trillin recently joined the show to discuss his love of rich regional and ethnic food which he chronicled in his book "Third Helpings." His New Yorker Magazine series "U. S. Journal" ended in 1982, but a collection of 16 of his stories about murder have been collected in the book "Killings."


Escaping and Finding Himself Again

Billy Hayes' years spent in a Turkish prison for smuggling hashish have been well documented in his book Midnight Express, which was later adapted into a book. He now pursues an acting career in California.


Balancing Free Speech with Child Safety

Philadelphia Councilwoman Joan Specter and Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union debate what legislative or prosecutorial action should be taken against published work which either advocates for or features pedophilia. Prompting the discussion was the discovery of a pamphlet titled "How to Have Sex with Children," which was sold in Philadelphia bookstores.


Supporting the Parents of Murdered Children

Deborah Spungen, who wrote a book about her daughter's murder by punk musician Sid Vicious, founded a Philadelphia chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. She and another woman, named Eileen Rainier, join Fresh Air's Terry Gross to discuss the impact the support group has had on grieving mothers and fathers.


Two Brothers' Paths Diverge

Writer and scholar John Edgar Wideman's new book focuses on his younger brother Robby, who is serving a life sentence for murder. Wideman explores their differences and tries to understand what led Robby to a life of crime.


John Waters' "Bad" Taste.

Film director and writer John Waters is Hollywood's "leading exponent of bad taste," and Waters describes himself as making exploitation films for the arthouse. Waters is also interested in murderers and has taught film in prison. The Baltimore Museum of Art recently held a retrospective of Waters' work, and the mayor declared the opening day "John Waters Day."


Henry Hill's Life as a "Wise Guy."

Nicholas Pileggi is a journalist and contributing editor to New York Magazine who specializes in stories about organized crime. His latest book, "Wise Guy: Life in a Mafia Family," is a biography based on his interviews with former mobster Henry Hill. The book offers as insider view of organized crime.


Celebrating the City of Joy

Anand Nagar, which translates into the City of Joy, is one of the most densely-populated slums in Calcutta. In order to learn more about how people survive in dire poverty, French writer Dominique LaPierre and his wife lived in a hovel alongside the neighborhood's residents. His book about the experience, called The City of Joy, has just been released in paperback.


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