Stories tagged: prison-life

Where Love Flies Free: Women, Home, and Writing in Cook County Jail
by Ann Folwell Stanford

In this essay, Stanford weaves writing by her students at Cook County Jail into a meditation on the meaning of home and the impact of incarceration on all of us.

 activism  community  prison-life  programs-in-prison

Letters From Prison Camp
by Kathleen Desautels

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.

 community  personal-narrative  political-prisoners  prison-life

Invisibility of Women Prisoner Resistance
by Victoria Law

Victoria Law’s research indicates that women prisoners are even more overlooked by mainstream society than their male counterparts. She explains how their struggles to improve their health care, abolish sexual, maintain contact with their children and efforts to further their education have been ignored or dismissed by those studying the prison-industrial complex.

 activism  movement-building  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

Fighting the 'Labia Lift'
by Krystal Voss

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.

 activism  guard-prisoner-relations  personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  sexual-harassment

Interview with Sheryl Abel
by Sheryl Abel

In this interview Salome Chasnoff asks Sheryl to talk about her experience in prison and how she walked out the prison and is now walking back in without handcuffs and shackles helping the women she left behind. And how she became the CEO of H.O.P.E.

 motherhood  prison-life  reentry

Interview with Joanne Archibald
by Salome Chasnoff

In this interview with Salome Chasnoff, Joanne Archibald discusses the impact of her federal prison sentence on her life, her relationship with her son, and her ability to move on with her life afterwards.

 motherhood  prison-life  reentry

Interview with Iyrania Hill
by Iyrania Hill

In this interview with Carolyn Watson and Salome Chasnoff, Iyrania Hill describes her time serving a twenty-year sentence beginning at age 18. She discusses her life in prison, including five years spent at a medium-security co-ed prison and the ways people maintained romantic relationships behind the walls.

 labor  prison-life  relationships

Interview with Hilda Berghammer
by Hilda Berghammer

In the course of being interviewed by Carolyn Watson and Salome Chasnoff, Hilda Berghammer discusses her life beginning with her immigration to the U.S. at age 9. She was involved in a series of abusive relationships, before being arrested on charges related to driving under the influence. She details her experiences inside Cook County Jail and Illinois state prisons, describing the intake process and the physical space of the prison. She also talks about her experiences in prostitution, and discusses her relationship with her son.

 domestic-violence  motherhood  prison-life  prostitution  substance-abuse

Interview with Donna Henry
by Donna Henry

In this interview with Carolyn Watson, Donna Henry gives a detailed account of being raped at age 16, starting heroin at age 23, and entering Dwight Correctional Facility. She talks about losing her children to DCFS and the steps that she is taking to have them returned. She also describes her experiences in a drug treatment program within the prison, including a typical day and the worst day.

 motherhood  prison-life  state-violence  substance-abuse

Interview with Diana Delgado
by Diana Delgado

In this interview conducted by Joanne Archibald and Salome Chasnoff, Diana Delgado tells the story of her life beginning with the loss of her mother at age 12. She discusses her own experiences of mothering, which included losing her first child to SIDS, giving birth while shackled to a bed, and being separated from her children while serving an 8-year sentence.

 motherhood  prison-life

Surviving Solitary
by Laura Whitehorn

Laura Whitehorn wrote this letter in March 1997 as a part of a packet for the National Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons, discussing the tactics she used to survive in a control unit.

 activism  control-units  political-prisoners  prison-life

Will the Justice Department Stand Up for Women Raped in Prison?
by Rachel Roth

Eight years ago, Congress acknowledged the brutal fact of systemic sexual assault behind bars by unanimously passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The Justice Department is now poised to issue final rules to implement the law, which makes federal funding to prisons and jails contingent on improved staff training, availability of medical and psychological services for people who suffer sexual assault, investigations and publicly available data about reported assaults.

 court-advocacy  guard-prisoner-relations  health  immigration  movement-building  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  sexual-violence  state-violence

Voices in Time
by Salome Chasnoff

This essay from Feminist Studies, looks at Voices in Time, a multimedia installation that artistically recreates a furnished prison cell, echoing with women’s stories.

 prison-life  public-policy

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
by Bonnie Kerness

These past years hve been full of thousands of calls and complaints of increasingly distrubing nature from prisoners and their families throughout the United States. The proportion of those complaints coming from women has risen, with women describing conditions of confinement, which are torture.

 activism  community  movement-building  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  public-policy  racism  sexual-violence  state-violence

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

The Condition in Women's Prisons
by Sara Olson

Today in California, there are 22,000 women, inmates and parolees, whose convictions are for, on the whole, non-violent and drug-related crimes. Women normally plea-bargain their cases. Even for violent crimes, we are usually sentenced as aiders and abettors. Because we are fallen women, our sentences tend to be longer than those for men convicted of the same crimes. When it comes to murder, women primarily kill abusers who have been torturing them for many years. Public financing for women’s prisons is money misspent.

 abolition  activism  gender  movement-building  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  public-policy

Suicide City
by Sara Olson

Right after 4:30 p.m. count on Halloween, there was the sound of a scuffle in D Hall. An alarm brought guards running from all parts of the yard. An ambulance pulled up to the back door of the hall in which we live. The attendant pulled open the back door, got back into the ambulance and backed the rear of the vehicle up to the door. Next thing we knew, a phalanx of guards came hot-footing down our hall toward the ambulance, three of them surrounding a tall, slim woman with her wrists cuffed behind her back, hair flying everywhere and a wild, terrified look in her eyes. She’d threatened to cut her wrists.

 prison-life  health

The Prison Industrial Complex in Indigenous California
by Stormy Ogden

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.

 native-american-prisoners  personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  racism

Why Does Popular Culture Treat Prison Rape As a Joke?
by Anna Clark

There's no soap-dropping counterpart "joke" referring to the abuse of female inmates. Ultimately, these distorted punch-line/silence memes enforce each other and perpetuate the reality of prison rape.

 activism  guard-prisoner-relations  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  sexual-harassment  sexual-violence

Freedom Fantasy
by Sara Olson

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

 personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  public-policy

Fourth of July at CCWF July 2006
by Sara Olson

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.

 personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  public-policy

Environmental Essay
by Sara Olson

The systems of federal and state and corporate imprisonment, the Prison/Industrial Complex, are growth industries in the United States. While there has been much attention worldwide to the human rights travesty of massive American incarceration, criticism has brought no reduction, only growth in the numbers. Incarceration is aimed at a certain group of people Blacks, Latinos, and the poor.

 abolition  activism  gender  movement-building  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  public-policy

Are We Really Innocent Before Proven Guilty?
by Jennifer Price

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".

 personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

A Modern Modest Proposal
by Sara Olson

Olson describes what a prisoner goes through serving a life sentence.

 personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

Do I Have to Stand for This?
by Kimberly Burke

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.

 children-of-prisoners  guard-prisoner-relations  personal-narrative  prison-life

Why A Book About Women In Prison: (Excerpt From Women Behind Bars) 'Health Care Can Be Deadly'
by Silja Talvi

This question is entirely valid, the deeper I began to delve into the underlying reasons for the rapid growth of girls and women in lock-up, the more insight I gained into a world that few outsiders see, much less understand. Once I began to pay particularly close attention to the ways in which females in the criminal justice system were portrayed in the media, it became clear to me that stereotypes and judgments about “fallen women” from centuries ago were still holding fast.

 activism  health  movement-building  prison-life

When I Think Back
by Rachel Galindo

Galindo shares her story about the supportive relationships in prison that have helped her to endure prison life.

 community  prison-life  relationships

Prison Life: A Day
by Marilyn Buck

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.

 guard-prisoner-relations  personal-narrative  political-prisoners  prison-life

Excerpt from Banished Pride
by Gina Autrey

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.

 peer-support  personal-narrative  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex  reentry  relationships

Bonnie, Frannie & Linda RIP
by Jerrye Broomhall

Every year the legislature approves the necessary extra millions to keep Oklahoma’s mass imprisonment binge solvent. Due to the economic downturn, however, the funds are no longer available and the mandate to fund Oklahoma’s prisons is no longer compelling to the cash-strapped legislature.

 prison-life  health  reentry

A Maypole in Prison
by Starhawk

“When Pagans get their rights, everyone gets their rights,” say Patrick McCollum, who for the last fifteen years has volunteered to serve as a Pagan chaplain in the California prisons. McCollum, a talented jewelry designer and craftsman by nature, has in the last decade spent the bulk of his time—and money—helping prisoners and making interfaith alliances worldwide.

 health  mental-health  peer-support  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

Giving Birth in Chains - The Shackling of Incarcerated Women During Labor and Delivery
by Anna Clark

As birthing choices are increasingly prominent in the public conversation, pregnant women are more and more empowered to decide what sort of care is right for their bodies and their child.Not so for pregnant women who are incarcerated. Not only are their decisions about care restricted, but many incarcerated pregnant women are physically restricted while giving birth: during labor and delivery, they are shackled.

 activism  children-of-prisoners  family  health  mental-health  motherhood  prison-life  reproductive-rights

Living Conditions Here in the CCWF
by Patricia Wright

This article tells of the unfair treatment, unsanitary, and overcrowding living conditions of CCWF and how the inmates are forced to live in these conditions. California has the largest female institution in America and it is still overcrowded. The overcrowdings of the institution leads to daily fights, unsanitary chow halls, and a exhausted staff to run the institution.

 health  movement-building  prison-life

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.

 prison-life  public-policy

Being an Inmate
by Tammica L. Summers

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.

 creative-writing  personal-narrative  prison-life

World of the Forgotten
by Tammica L. Summers

Summers shares her reflection on life in prison.

 prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

Without Regret
by Tammica L. Summers

Summers lives her life without doubt and has hope for the future. endures the anguishing wait.

 personal-narrative  prison-life  reentry

by Chrissy DeStefano

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!

 creative-writing  family  personal-narrative  prison-life  substance-abuse

Who Decides
by Mary Moran

In this poem, Mary asks the hard questions who decides your justice, who decides your fate?

 abolition  creative-writing  poetry  prison-life

by Chrissy DeStefano

This poem is about being incarcerated and how you feel being locked up!

 poetry  prison-life

Ready to Go
by Tammica L. Summers

Summers shares her pain in waiting to be released from prison.

 health  personal-narrative  prison-life  reentry

My Sunrise
by Rhonda leland

In this poem, Rhonda gives her dynamic view about prison life.

 poetry  prison-life

My Son’s Birthday
by Deanna Lynd

In this poem Deanna talks about her son whom she gave birth to while incarcerated. She speaks of the heartache and pain of being separated from your child at birth.

 creative-writing  poetry  prison-life

My Cell
by Melissa

I wrote this early in the morning sitting alone in my cell contemplating my sentence.

 creative-writing  personal-narrative  prison-life

by Denise Lopez

In this poem Denise talks about imprisonment and being free. Are we only imprisoned while incarcerated or is it in the mind.

 creative-writing  poetry  prison-life

by Tammica L. Summers

Summers is getting closer to life on the outside of prison and she endures the anguishing wait.

 personal-narrative  prison-life  reentry

Dehumanization Resistance
by Tammica L. Summers

Summers stays true to who she is in prison.

 mental-health  prison-life

Confinement After Midnight
by Deanna Land

In this poem Deanna talks about the confinements of prison life. She speaks on a personal level of doing her time. She is very creative in her description this is a very compelling poem.

 creative-writing  poetry  prison-life

Another Day Series
by Tammica L. Summers

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.

 mental-health  personal-narrative  poetry  prison-life  prison-industrial-complex

Consider this... Quit Yelling at Statues!
by Deborah Nicholls

Nicholls continues her poetry series, Consider this writing about the challenges of forgiving yourself.

 creative-writing  mental-health  personal-narrative  poetry  prison-life

A Different Point of View
by Rhonda Leland

California Proposition 21, known also as Prop 21, was a proposition proposed and passed in 2000 that increased a variety of criminal penalties for crimes committed by youth and incorporated many youth offenders into the adult criminal justice system.

 children-of-prisoners  motherhood  prison-life  public-policy