Press & Praise

Powerful, captivating, and hopeful, Dreams from the Monster Factory goes beyond statistics and sensational portrayals of prison life and reveals the troubling realities of U.S. jails and an astonishing alternative.

Sunny Schwartz founded the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project, a restorative justice program based in a San Francisco jail that has cut recidivism for violent rearrests by up to 80 percent. Schwartz makes no excuses for the rapists, gangbangers and murderers she works with, nor will she excuse a prison system that churns out criminals who are more dangerous when they leave prison than when they arrived. Instead, she’s created a correctional program that is designed to empower victims and require offenders to take true responsibility for their actions and eliminate their violent behavior.

“A gritty, unflinching book.”
— The Nation

“Personal and provocative, Sunny Schwartz's book demanded my wide-eyed attention. Schwartz confronts our skepticism of the prison system and its ability to prevent violence with gripping and authentic stories from her life and her work on a visionary program in the San Francisco jails that has actually reduced recidivism rates for violent crimes. Dreams From the Monster Factory is an inspiring story about justice and forgiveness.”

— Terrie M. Williams, author
Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting

“Schwartz concludes that the horrible conditions in prisons, the ‘monster factories’ of the title, create people incapable of empathy or compassion who return to society and commit more crimes. A series of family concerns thrust Schwartz into helping spearhead the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP) in San Francisco to create a prison that doesn't reinforce violence and that joins offenders and victims in a union of empowerment and accountability. Lucid, gritty and penetrating, this book is perhaps one of the most effective testaments available in the campaign to rehabilitate those we lock up and sometimes abandon."

— Publisher's Weekly Review

I didn’t expect to like this book. I found the book to be
thought-provoking, assumption challenging and inspirational
in the extreme.

“A powerfully honest and revealing glimpse into a little known world. Ms. Schwartz captivates the reader with her clear-eyed belief that even violent offenders can change. Her work shows that violent behavior is a choice and our communities can be stronger if each of us - victims, offenders, citizens --better understands why we act the way we do. As a survivor of violent crime, I respect Ms. Schwartz's insistence that the penal system is not working. I admire her willingness to follow her heart toward a vision that will make a difference.”

— Trisha Meili, author
I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility

“Dreams from the Monster Factory is as gritty as the halls of the San Francisco Jail that it takes place in. But rather than being filled with despair and violence, Sunny Schwartz's story is marked by hope and respect. It is truly breathtaking to read about the transformation of the jails that Sunny has led. Putting the principles of restorative justice to work at ground zero of the crime culture, Sunny and her team have created a space where hardened criminals can realize their better selves and begin giving back to the community that they have heretofore only taken from.”

— Pat Nolan, Vice President, Prison Fellowship

Schwartz’s book is revealing about the criminal mind and its thought processes, and thus contains valuable lessons for those at risk of incarceration, and for those close to them
— The New York Review of Books

“I couldn't put this book down. This is to the world of prisons and rehabilitation what Dead Man Walking is to the death penalty. It's gritty and real, simple yet revolutionary, hopeful but realistic. It isn't all happy endings but there is vision combined with experience that suggests a way out of the morass our society is in. Dreams, yes, but not fantasies.”

— Howard Zehr, Professor of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University and author of Changing Lenses

“Sunny Schwartz understands accountability, kindness, and forgiveness. In her brave and empowering book about people's ability to change, she tells the story of her life and her work with people who are often detested, feared or forgotten and explains how restorative justice can transform these criminals, their victims, and our communities.”

— Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

Her decision to tell her own life story…exemplifies her understanding that it is through sharing our own stories and analyzing them that all of us broken people can be bound back together. I am in awe of Sunny Schwartz. This woman is more real, has more heart, is more of a creative fighter, and loves the unlovable more than almost anyone I have ever met.
— Tikkun Daily