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Women and Prisons

Organizations, books, and Web sites

    < 2001- 4th edition Statistics Packet. National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, 2001.
Information on battered women who kill in self defense, domestic violence and sexual abuse, when battered women seek help, recidivism of abusers and of women who kill. Also - on imprisoned women and their children, and on sentencing disparity based on gender.

    < Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(tel) 415-255-7036
(fax) 415-552-3150
info@prisonerswithchildren.org

    < California Prison Focus
2940 16th St. Suite 307
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-252-9211
Fax: 415-252-9311
info@prisons.org

    < Surviving the System
A forum for prisoners and their loved ones, as well as various activists, professionals and recovering persons, who desire and see an absolute need for social change.

    < Free Battered Women
1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 255-7036 ext. 6
info (at) freebatteredwomen (dot) org

    < Searchable resource directory from the Prison Activist Resource Center

    < Amnesty International, Abuse of Women in Custody: Sexual Misconduct and Shackling of Pregnant Women. Amnesty International, 2001.
This report is a follow up to Not Part of My Sentence, with a specific focus on the sexual misconduct of guards and the mistreatment of pregnant women in custody.

    < Amnesty International. "Not Part of My Sentence"- Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody. Amnesty International, 1999.
This report is a direct presentation of statistics based on interviews with prisoners in California and outlines the human rights abuses experienced by incarcerated women in the United States. It profiles the female prison population, illuminating the discriminatory practices of the criminal justice system.

    < Atwood, Jane Evelyn. Too Much Time: Women in Prison. Phaidon Press Limited, 2000.
This book contains extremely powerful photos of women prisoners in France, Czech Republic, India, Israel, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. The images and writings serve to illustrate the continuum of violence against women and show how victimized women are criminalized by a sexist and racist criminal justice system.

    < Bhattacharjee, Anannya and Silliman (eds). Policing the National Body: Race, Gender, and Criminalization. South End Press, 2002.
This powerful collection of writings from the perspective of women of color deals with the difficulties of survival in the face of increasing criminalization, aggressive law enforcement, welfare “reform” and draconian immigration policies.

    < Bloom, Barbara, Meda Chesney Lind, and Barbara Owen. Women in California Prisons: Hidden Victims of the War on Drugs. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 1994.

    < Bosworth, Mary. Engendering Resistance: Agency and Power in Women’s Prisoners. Dartmouth Publishing Company Limited, 1999.
This book examines the affect of gender stereotypes on the agency and resistance of women prisoners, in particular how women negotiate power based on their social locations.

    < Brenzel, Barbara. Daughters of the State. MIT Press, 1983.
Statistical and analytical study of the failure of the prison reform movement, focusing on a history of the first reform school for girls in the U.S.

    < Browne, Angela. When Battered Women Kill. The Free Press, 1987.
Domestic violence and the legal system

    < Chigwada-Bailey, Ruth. Black Women’s Experiences of the Criminal Justice: A Discourse on Disadvantage. Waterside Press, 1997.
This book exposes the systematic disadvantages experienced by black women due to the intersecting forces of race, gender and class. The author’s research in based on life experience interviews with African-Caribbean women in Britain that explores their relationship with various factions of the criminal justice system including law enforcement, probation, mental health institutions, court and prisons.

    < Comack, Elizabeth. Women in Trouble: Connecting Women’s Law Violations to Their Histories of Abuse, Fernwood Publishing, 1996.
Comack focuses on the life stories of twenty-four women prisoners in Canada to explain the connections between their histories of abuse and criminal behavior. She utilizes a theoretical framework which analyzes how structures such as capitalism, patriarchy, and racism constrict women and how these constrictions manifest and effect their everyday lives.

    < Faith, Karlene. The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten: Life Beyond the Cult (The Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law) . Northeastern University Press,
Faith argues on behalf of Leslie Van Houten, possibly the least culpable and most rehabilitated of three “Manson girls”. The author has visited and corresponded with Van Houten since 1972, the yea in which the Manson girls’ death sentences were commuted. Faith describes Van Houten’s descent from the middle class to Manson’s Family, finally suggesting that it is time for Van Houten to be paroled.

    < Faith, Karlene. Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement & Resistance. Press Gang Publishers, 1993.
From historical and internationalist perspective, critically examines such topics as: crimes and punishment of women from the witch hunts to the present; institutionalized violence against incarcerated women; women loving women in prison; Native women's acts of resistance; Hollywood's formulaic women-in-prison films; and the revolutionary Santa Cruz Women's Project (1972-76), which Faith co-founded.

    < Freedman, Estelle. Their Sisters Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in America: 1830-1930. Ohio State University Press, 1981.

    < Gillespie, Cynthia K. Justifiable Homicide: Battered Women, Self-Defense and the Law. Ohio State University Press, 1989.
Political/legal analysis by the late director of the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle, WA.

    < Girshick, Lori B. No Safe haven: Stories of Women in Prison. Northeastern Press, 1999.
This book examines the life experiences of forty female inmates in Western North Carolina, unearthing the inequalities within a criminal justice system defined by patriarchy. The author argues that prisons are used as a “dumping ground” for women marginalized by a sexist social structure.

    < Harlow, Barbara. Barred: Women, Writing, and Political Detention. Wesleyan University Press, 1992.
A survey, with extensive excerpts, of writings by and about women political prisoners in Northern Ireland, Israel, El Salvador, Egypt, South Africa, and the United States.

    < Human Rights Watch. All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons. December 1996.
This report contains the findings of studies conducted by the Human Rights Watch in U.S. Women’s Prisons from 1994-1996 about the sexual abuse of inmates. It advocates for specific policies to eradicate sexual abuse and improve prison conditions.

    < Malloch, Margaret S. Women, Drugs, and Custody. Waterside Press, 2000.
This book explores the use of drugs by women in the context of incarceration; evaluates rehabilitation efforts, examines how the social construction of race and gender criminalizes the use of drugs by women, and shows how rhetoric which labels prisoners as less eligible for resources than “free” citizens shapes the penal system’s focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation.

    < Owen, Barbara. In The Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women’s Prison. State University of New York Press, 1998.
Owen examines the ethnography of women in prison, women’s pathways to imprisonment, relationships inside and outside of prison, and the culture of imprisoned women.

    < O’Brien, Patricia. Making It in the "Free World": Women in Transition From Prison (Suny Series in Women, Crime and Criminology). State University of New York Press, 200
Using first-person narratives and a review of contemporary theory, this book addresses how women return to the "free world" after single or multiple experiences of incarceration.

    < Proyecto Common Touch
Assists female parolees who are facing parole revocation.
935 39th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601
Contact: Tommy Escarcega (510) 409-1662 and Bob Evans (510) 238-4190

    < Rafter, Nicole Hahn. Encyclopedia of Women and Crime. Oryx Press, 2000.
A reference book on women and crime. This book covers numerous themes such as crime, victims, and victimology; policing, courts, and case processing; punishment and treatment; and careers in criminal justice, police work, law, and corrections.

    < Richie, Beth E. Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women. Routledge Press, 1996.
Stories of battered African-American women incarcerated in New York City.

    < Sadawi, Nawal. Memoirs from the Women's Prison. University of California Press, 1994 (reprint ed).
Imprisoned in 1981 by Anwar Sadat for alleged “crimes against the State”, Sadawi describes women’s resistance to state violence and shares insight into the formation of a women’s community. She describes how political prisoners, both secular intellectuals and Islamic revivalists, forged alliances to demand better conditions and to maintain their sanity while incarcerated.

    < Scheffler, Judith A. (ed). Wall Tappings: Women’s Prison Writings, 200 A.D. to Present. Feminist Press, 2002.
An anthology of essays, memoirs, letters, diary entries, fiction, and poetry by women prisoners from around the world and throughout history including Ethel Rosenberg, Ericka Huggins, and Nawal El Sadawi.

    < Shakur, Assata, Marilyn M. Buck, Laura Whitehorn, and Out of Control: le. Sparks Fly: Women Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in the U.S. Regent Press, 1998.
The stories of women political prisoners written by some of the most renowned female political prisoners.

    < Shakur, Assata. Assata. Zed Books, 1987.
Autobiography of Assata Shakur (born Joanne Chesimard), Black Panther leader politically persecuted in United States, and living in exile in Cuba.

    < Walker, Lenore E. Terrifying Love: Why Battered Women Kill and How Society Responds. Harper Perennial, 1989.
Stories and analysis of women who kill in self-defense and their legal struggles by Lenore E. Walker, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Institute, professor of psychology at University of Denver.

    < Watterson, Kathryn. Women in Prison: Inside the Concrete Womb. Northeastern University Press, 1996.
Dubbed "a cold, hard view of life of women in American prisons," this book presents the life stories of women prisoners and argues that prison is a form of institutional violence perpetrated primarily against the poor and people of color.

    < Williams, Evelyn. Inadmissible Evidence. Lawrence Hill Books, 1993.
The story of Assata Shakur’s aunt and lawyer.

    < Wilson, Christina. Loving in the War Years: Black women loving women in the War on Drugs. Arise Magazine, May 2003.
    < Women's Prison Activism Archives
The Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) has put together an archive of writings related to women's prison activism from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This public archive of fliers, reports, newsletters, pamphlets, and conference programs provides us with some historical reference of where we've been and how things have (or unfortunately haven't) changed over the past few decades. You can access the archives and download the documents here .




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