Traci Schlesinger is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at DePaul University. She received her AA in Women Studies from Bergen Community College, her BA in Sociology from Fordham University, and her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University, where she was fortunate to have Bruce Western as her adviser. Since completing her doctorate, she has published four peer reviewed journal articles, which have been widely cited by both scholars and the courts, and has a forthcoming book—The Limits of Equality: Sentencing Policy and Colorblind Racism—with VDM Press. Her research examines how criminal legal policies and practices work to maintain white supremacy in the post Civil Rights era. Moreover, her commitment to abolishing prisons and dismantling white supremacy extends beyond her teaching and research to the streets, where she can be found sending books to people incarcerated in women’s prisons, doing community teach-ins, or organizing or joining in anti-racist and anti-prison protests.
The Vermont Women’s Prison Project
by Traci Schlesinger & Mary Field Belenky
Based on extensive interviews with both staff and incarcerated women in one Vermont prison, this article examines the supportive relationships women form with one another and with “good” guards. The authors discuss the women’s and guards’ stories about positive changes within women’s behavior and outlook during their incarceration, emphasizing the importance of new-found relationships and trust in supporting such changes.
guard-prisoner-relations prison-life relationships
Equality at the Price of Justice
by Traci Schlesinger
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, prison admission rates have been rising precipitously, racial disparities remain high, and the proportion of prisoners who are women is increasing dramatically. While several scholars argue that changes in sentencing policies play a part in increasing the proportion of the correctional population that is women, there have been few empirical examinations of this presumed connection. In this study, I examine whether and when mandatory terms and sentencing enhancements disproportionately affect women’s prison admission rates and if this disparate affect differs by race. The study has four major findings. First, mandatory terms and sentencing enhancements increase prison admission rates for violent, property, and drug crimes among Black and White men and women. Second, these policies disproportionately burden women, regardless of offense type. Third, the gender disparate impacts of these policies are most consistent among Blacks. Finally, the affects of these policies are most consistently associated with increases in violent admissions, but associated with the most substantial increases in drug admissions. These findings corroborate the theoretical perspective offered and suggest that that the concept of equality may be fruitfully replaced by one of justice.