"For those who operate within the carceral complex, this book is an important read. For those who seek to better understand the complicated ways in which religion and incarceration mingle, it is a required read."
The New York Journal of Books
"Erzen is a talented writer whose prose is accessible and easy to digest, and she never dodges the complexities and rigor of her subject. This is an enlightening and unflinching examination of the tragedies of mass incarceration and the complicated role that faith-based ministries play in prisoner rehabilitation and the beliefs around it."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Tanya Erzens writing shines light on the history of American prisons, on the role of religion within these desolate locales, and also on the lives lived by the prisoners she profiles. Her work is both illuminating and deeply, intimately, human, exploring the impossible situations lived in by hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, and the ways that people try to salvage something out of the most soul-destroying environments imaginable. In an era of brutality, Erzens empathic voice is needed more than ever."
Sasha Abramsky, author of The American Way of Poverty
"Tanya Erzens God in Captivity offers an exceptionally nuanced and often heartbreaking picture of the role religion plays in the US prison system, both today and from its founding. As Erzen writes, the escape from brutalization that prison ministries provide can be, simultaneously, a lifeline for people attempting to wrest back a portion of their humanity, and state-sanctioned bigotry; a new chance at family for those whove been disowned, and a biased system that methodically shepherds desperate inmates into the most restrictive of faiths; and the offer of inner freedom in a purgatory without parole, and the sanctification of a deeply racist system descended directly from slavery. In prison, as in the outside world, all of these things are true at once, and it takes empathy, integrity, and skill to give them full voice. An important book for our times."
Kathryn Joyce, author of The Child Catchers and Quiverfull