One City One Book banner
Saturday, 11/12/2022
2:00 - 3:30
Main Library

100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Contact Telephone

Zara Stone and Joe Loya discuss Stone’s book, Killer Looks: The Forgotten History Of Plastic Surgery In Prisons, which looks at the history of prison reform through the lens of beauty. 


Killer Looks is the definitive story about the long-forgotten practice of providing free nose jobs, face-lifts, breast implants and other physical alterations to prisoners, the idea being that by remodeling the face, you remake the man. From the 1920s up to the mid-1990s, half a million prison inmates across America, Canada and the U.K willingly went under the knife, their tab picked up by the government. In the beginning, this was a haphazard affair—applied inconsistently and unfairly to inmates, but entering the 1960s, a movement to scientifically quantify the long-term effect of such programs took hold. And, strange as it may sound, the criminologists were right: recidivism rates plummeted. In 1967, a three-year cosmetic surgery program set on Rikers Island saw recidivism rates drop 36% for surgically altered offenders. The program, funded by a $240,000 grant from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, was led by Dr. Michael Lewin, who ran a similar program at Sing Sing prison in 1953. Killer Looks draws on the intersectionality of socioeconomic success, racial bias, the prison industry complex and the fallacy of attractiveness to get to the heart of how appearance and societal approval create self-worth. Stone uncovers the deeper truths of beauty bias, inherited racism, effective recidivism programs and inequality. 


Stone is a Bay Area author and award-winning journalist who covers the intersection of beauty culture, technology and social justice. She’s published with The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vice, Forbes, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, among others, and has worked as an on-air reporter for Fusion, a nationally syndicated ABC News affiliate. Born in the UK, Stone moved to the US to complete a master’s in journalism at Columbia University and never left. Her work has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Dow Jones News Fund, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for American Jewish Archives and the Mozilla Open Press Foundation. Stone’s affiliations include the San Francisco Writers Grotto and The Authors Guild.

Loya is an author whose essays and book reviews have been published in dozens of national newspapers and magazines. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber, and wrote and performed a one-man show of the same name at the Thick House in San Francisco. He has appeared on CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, FOX’s O’Relly Factor and other TV shows to comment on cultural events. In 2007 the documentary Protagonist featured the story of his radical life change. He is one of the founders of Own Your Story and he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Zara Stone - Website | Zara Stone - Twitter | Zara Stone - Instagram - Killer Looks Book - Instagram 

Joe Loya - WebsiteJoe Loya - Twitter | Joe Loya - Instagram