Stories tagged: personal-narrative
This article comes from a program, called Women on the Inside, made up of a series of classes and workshops that took place in a Iowa Correctional Institution for women. Alongside long excerpts of her students’ work, Crane-Williams discusses the silencing of women in prison.
The Fire Inside is a series of writings put together by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners as a quarterly newsletter. The newsletters feature writing by Charisse Shumate, Patricia Elaine Mason, Linda Field, N. Duran, Linda Evans, Debi Zuver, Theresa Cruz, Danielle Metz, Cynthia Russaw, Marilyn Buck, Anna Bell, Dylcia Pagan, Alicia Rodriguez, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Alejandrina Torres, Carmen Valentin, Laura Whitehorn, Susan Crane, and Silvia Baraldini. These letters, essays, poems, stories, and other writings are written by women inside prisons, to try and connect and break down the walls that the prison system creates between the outside world and inside the Prison Industrial Complex.
Kathleen Desautels, a nun and previous political prisoner, was arrested for protesting the School of the Americas, and sent to Greenville, IL to serve a six-month sentence. In this series of letters to friends and family, she describes the day to day activities within the women’s prison while describing the relationships and bonds that are created inside prison walls.
Excerpt — Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives From Women’s Prisons
by Ayelet Waldman & Robin Levi
Sarah Chase’s narrative is one of the oral histories that appears in the forthcoming book Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons. Edited by Ayelet Waldman and Robin Levi, Inside This Place will be available in stores in October 2011 from Voice of Witness. The ninth title in the Voice of Witness series, Inside This Place reveals some of the most egregious human rights violations within women’s prisons in the United States. In their own words, the thirteen narrators in this book recount their lives leading up to incarceration and their experiences inside—ranging from forced sterilization and shackling during childbirth, to physical and sexual abuse by prison staff. Together, their testimonies illustrate the harrowing struggles for survival that women in prison must endure. To learn more about the Voice of Witness book series and oral history projects, go here.
Colorado prisoner Krystal Voss tells about the invasive strip search policy at the Denver Women’s Correctional Center. During routine strip searches, women are required to spread their labia to allow staff to search for contraband.
Barilee Bannister shares her experience of sexual harassment by a guard at the prison, including retaliation for her use of the grievance procedure.
Patricia tells how she survived domestic violence in her marriage and then was later convicted of hiring someone to kill her ex-husband.
Ogden describes the historical legacy of the racism, abuse and mistreatment of Native American peoples in the United States at the hands of the U.S. government. She connects their history with the current imprisonment of Native Americans, including her own story to demonstrate the oppressive impact of incarceration.
In March, 2008 I was released from Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, California after over six years in prison. I won a writ, a portion of one anyway, in October, 2007 in Los Angeles that agreed with my attorneys that the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) had violated my double jeopardy right by adding a year to a sentence that a real court had already addressed. I got half-time, so six months were deducted from my sentence and the BPH commanded staff at CCWF to release me March 17, as the
Olson tells of a 4th of July at CCWF. When you come into the CDC, it’s a whole different world. It’s like t third world country. You’re completely cut off from civilization. I was freaked out when I got here. I was sure some of the prisoners were men. "Are they men?" I asked. I had no idea. You’re isolated.
Jennifer tells her experience in the criminal justice system. In my experience, a Public Defender is more like a 'figurehead', appointed to the poor to give the illusion of fair representation and justice for all. My Public Defender advised me to accept one of the plea bargains. I looked at him and said, "But I am not guilty". He said, "That didn’t really matter because I looked guilty".
Olson describes what a prisoner goes through serving a life sentence.
In this poem, Thompson discusses her feelings about her mother’s incarceration.
A series of letters, poems, and notes written by the children of prisoners. Most are directed to their parents.
Sara Olson tells the story of the Annual “Get On The Bus” event, uniting women prisoners with our children and loved ones.
This letter of reconciliation expresses the complex experience of having an incarcerated mother. Belcher describes both the anger of growing up with her mother in prison and the love that transcends that anger.
In this first person narrative, Chesa Boudin writes about the fate of children with incarcerated parents and also reflects on the experiences he and a close friend shared growing up with incarcerated parents. While talking about the real life effects of incarceration on family life, Boudin looks at the different paths that he and his childhood friend took in response to their situation.
Kimberly Burke, a mother in prison tells a story of an interaction while her 7-year old son is visiting What convinces him to not want to come back. She uses her experience to talk about the large numbers of prisoners that never get a visitor. The enemy lines between prisoners and guards create a kind of hostile environment in which no one wants to be apart of.
Kim Mikesell tells the price that children pay when parents are incarcerated.
Two Immigrants Who Followed the Path to Citizenship Tell Stories of Detention and Deportation
by Carolina Fulecio Hernandez
This interview by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now explores women’s experiences with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including detention and deportation. Carolina Fulecio Hernandez describes her arrest by ICE agents, followed by detention and deportation to Guatemala. Sharon Nyantekyi describes her detention at a private detention facility run by Corrections Corporation of America.
Marilyn Buck illustrates a prisoner’s determined efforts to reaffirm her own humanity in the face of constant indignities by describing one day of her own life in prison. Buck is a political prisoner serving eighty years in prison. She has been an active supporter of the Black Liberation movement and other struggles for self-determination.
I have a hard time trusting others. My friendship is not something that is given freely. I can count on one hand the people who I truly consider to be my friend.
Being an inmate takes everything you have! It’s like having an out of body experience in which “you’ must come out of yourself and use all manner of determination, self-preservation, sacrifice, compromise, strength, and extreme measure of self-discipline to will yourself to do what is required…to will yourself into being an inmate.
This book was written for you. Of course, I don’t know who you are and the women who wrote the poems and life stories in this book don’t know you personally. But we decided it was important to share what some women have thought and felt about their lives and about self-harm, in the hope that their experiences will mean something to you. And whatever your relationship to self-harm might be, maybe these women’s words will encourage you to write your own story.Writing can be a good way to explore, and show, what’s going on inside of you. As Anne-Marie, one of the poets in this book, told me, ‘Writing helps me make sense of my emotions, helps me understand how I feel. It helps me communicate and offload’. And as Anne Frank* wrote in her diary, ‘Paper is more patient than people’. The piece of paper you write your thoughts on won’t tell you that you’re stupid, wrong, or ‘crazy’ and it won’t say, 'That didn’t happen' or 'You didn’t see that'.
With poetry, you can express your thoughts and release your feelings in a very few words. It can help you reach out and feel less alone. And because so many women have had the reality of their experiences denied or ignored, writing your life story can be a way of putting the record straight and taking charge of your life.
Summers lives her life without doubt and has hope for the future. endures the anguishing wait.
I lost my son right out the hospital when he was born for being addicted to drugs. So because the father and I were addicted to drugs we started robbing people’s houses for money and etc. for the drugs. Now we lost both kids, one to the state and one to my parents, and we’re facing 3+ years in prison. There’s more to the story but this pretty much explains it. Thanks!
My poem is about my life, how it started, how it was and how it is now. To show that no matter what you can come back from the past. This poem was modeled after the original “Where I’m From” poem by George Ella Lyon.
I am held captive this moment in time but, one day, I’ll be free seeing to this rhyme.
Summers shares her pain in waiting to be released from prison.
I wrote this early in the morning sitting alone in my cell contemplating my sentence.
This poem is about Dawn’s personal experience while being incarcerated.
Summers is getting closer to life on the outside of prison and she endures the anguishing wait.
When it found truth was simply what was made of life. It doesn’t matter how it started or where it ends. It only matters that you refrain from disliking your won being and spirit. The command solution is to become materialistic, idolizing color, shape and size. Materialistic stamina becomes the utmost important factor of life when one cannot admire and respect their own being.
In this series of poems, Summers describes everyday prison life from a personal point of view. Fifteen separate poems discuss different aspects of daily life inside the walls, covering a broad range of emotions.
Nicholls continues her poetry series, Consider this writing about the challenges of forgiving yourself.
In this poignant personal narrative, Kebby Warner shares her experience of pregnancy and childbirth while serving time. Following her story are several documents she wrote to publicize the organization The People Against Court Kidnapping (P.A.C.K.), which she created after her parental rights were terminated and her daughter was put up for adoption.