Chowan Celebrates Dr. Gregory S. Taylor and Latest Work, Central Prison
Chowan University celebrates Dr. Gregory S. Taylor, Distinguished Professor of History at Chowan University, as his book entitled Central Prison has reached national recognition and praise. This masterfully written book details the history of North Carolina’s State Penitentiary as the first scholarly study to explore the prison’s entire history, from its origins in the 1870s to its status in the beginning decades of the twenty-first century. Dr. Taylor looks at the many intricacies of the state’s prison system including convict leasing, chain gangs, execution, and even the treatment of inmates at the nearby Women’s Prison, in order to illuminate the difficulties of living incarcerated in the state’s penitentiary. As an excellent writer and researcher, Dr. Taylor brilliantly incorporates significant sections of the state’s history into his discussion so as to show the undeniable connections between the changes happening in society and those directly affecting Central Prison. He also artfully depicts the physical prison itself as a product of the state, corrupted by issues of race, gender, sectionalism, political infighting, and inequality.
But where there has been injustice and a painful past, there has also been an evolution of change and restoration. Dr. Taylor does not fail to acknowledge the progress of penal reform by giving credit to the politicians who enacted revolutionary policies and the officials who enforced them, as well as the untold number of African American inmates who endured unjust treatment while incarcerated in a state notorious for racial injustice. Dr. Taylor’s multifaceted, nuanced work in Central Prison has the potential to garner appeal not only from scholars of criminal justice and history but also general readers wanting to know more about one of North Carolina’s most influential- and most infamous- institutions. Notable authors in this particular genre have commented on Dr. Taylor’s remarkable work. Mark Jones, co-author of North Carolina’s Criminal Justice System stated that “Taylor provides an outstanding history of Central Prison. Anyone interested in the history of penology in the United States, especially prisons in the South, should read this book.” Another peer, Seth Kotch, author of Lethal State: A History of the Death Penalty in North Carolina remarked on the relevance of Dr. Taylor’s work, praising and validating his book by saying, “This is a brutal history of progress that helps us understand not only our history but also our current struggle to create a just society.” Please join these esteemed scholars and Chowan University in congratulating Dr. Gregory S. Taylor and his most recent achievement.
Dr. Greg Taylor