Inner Lives: Voices of African American Women In Prison

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The rate of women entering prison has increased nearly 400 percent since 1980, with African American women constituting the largest percentage of this population. However, despite their extremely disproportional representation in correctional institutions, little attention has been paid to their experiences within the criminal justice system.

Inner Lives provides readers the rare opportunity to intimately connect with African American women prisoners. By presenting the women's stories in their own voices, Paula C. Johnson captures the reality of those who are in the system, and those who are working to help them. Johnson offers a nuanced and compelling portrait of this fastest-growing prison population by blending legal history, ethnography, sociology, and criminology. These striking and vivid narratives are accompanied by equally compelling arguments by Johnson on how to reform our nation's laws and social policies, in order to eradicate existing inequalities. Her thorough and insightful analysis of the historical and legal background of contemporary criminal law doctrine, sentencing theories, and correctional policies sets the stage for understanding the current system.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Johnson’s Inner Lives provides both a serious intervention in the literature on prisons and a venue through which incarcerated and formerly incarcerated Black women can speak for themselves. It challenges readers to take action.”
-Black Renaissance

Inner Lives soars when the women are allowed to speak for themselves.”

“Johnson provides a historical look at African American women in the U.S. criminal justice system from the colonial period to the present.”
-Law's Social Inquiry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814742549
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Pages: 339
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula C. Johnson is Professor of Law at Syracuse University College of Law and Co-President of the Society of American Law Teachers.

Joyce A. Logan, a former inmate in the Texas prison system, is an advocate for prisoner rights and education.

Angela J. Davis is Professor of Law at the Washington College of Law at American University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Joyce A. Logan
1 Analysis of African American Women’s Experiences in the U.S. Criminal Justice System
1I Profiles and Narratives of African American Women in the U.S. Criminal Justice System
A Currently Incarcerated Women
Don Alda
Rae Ann
B Formerly Incarcerated Women
Bettie Gibson
Joyce Ann Brown
Betty Tyson
Karen Michelle Blakney
Ida P. McCray
Millicent Pierce
Joyce A. Logan
Donna Hubbard Spearman
C Criminal Justice Officials and Support Networks
Judge Juanita Bing Newton
Assistant Warden Gerald Clay
Grace House Administrators: Rochelle Bowles, Mary Dolan, Annie González, and Kathy Nolan
Sandra Barnhill, Director, Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers (AIM)
Rhodessa Jones, Director, Medea Theater Project
Professor Brenda V. Smith
A Family Story: Renay, Judy, Debbie, and Kito
III Conclusions and Recommendations
Afterword by Angela J. Davis
Appendix A: Self-Study Course
on African American Women’s History
Appendix B: Resource Directory
About the Author

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