Former Missouri state senator Jeff Smith spent 10 months in federal prison in Kentucky for lying to the FBI about a campaign finance law violation in 2004 when he ran for Congress. Now a professor at The New School, Jeff returned to my show to talk about the book about his experiences, “Mr. Smith Goes To Prison.” Among the questions I asked him:

  • Since you were 5’6″ and weighed 120 pounds when you got to the prison, was your first priority befriending some big guys?
  • Did that help you avoid problems with other inmates?
  • What was your job in prison?
  • How did you balance the inmates vs. the guards to insure against trouble with either group?
  • Did the prison officials make any effort to help inmates do better once they’re out?
  • Did you know inmates who wanted to stay in prison because they’d be worse off outside?
  • Is it possible to achieve prison reform when no politician wants to be seen as soft on crime?

Along the way, Jeff told stories about why he smuggled food out of the prison warehouse, what happened when one prisoner took a special liking to him, and how the words Shawshank and Shark Tank are connected inside. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Previously on Harris Online…