A Woman Doing Life: Notes from a Prison for Women / Edition 1

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A Woman Doing Life is the only book that tells stories of women in prison from the inside out. Author and initiate Erin George draws a vivid and uniquely raw portrait of female life in prison, detailing her own responses to incarceration as well as her observations of prison relationships, death and sickness, reactions from friends and family, and even "cooking" in prison. The text also features poignant stories from other female inmates.

Edited by Robert Johnson—esteemed scholar and editor of Victor Hassine's Life Without Parole, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2009)—each chapter of the text opens with a helpful introduction that guides students as they read. An Afterword by noted scholar Joycelyn Pollock further helps place inmate testimonies into an academic context.

Offering profound insight into the too-often neglected issue of women in the criminal justice system, A Woman Doing Life is a must for courses in women and crime, gender and crime, and women in prison.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"George presents a realistic portrayal of life faced on a daily basis by women in prison. She addresses both the physical issues they face as well as the very real psychological challenges. She gives a voice to those women often forgotten or dismissed by society. The book goes from heartbreaking and tragic to humorous and uplifting as George describes how the women manage and cope in this unimaginable situation. . . . She shows the humanity of the women in prison as they try to negotiate their daily lives, deal with all they have lost, and come to terms with their crimes."--Heather Melton, University of Utah

"I don't think we have ever had such a vivid and compelling book-length account of one woman's experiences and observations in jail and in prison. . . . Robert Johnson's presentation of Erin George's A Woman Doing Life may very well be his most important contribution so far to this species of scholarship. As in Life Without Parole, Johnson's editing is superb and his brief essays preceding each chapter place the prisoners' stories and recollections in a meaningful sociological or historical context. . . . The book's pedagogical approach is virtually flawless."--Ken Haas, University of Delaware

"I absolutely love this book. . . . George's writing is excellent. The content would undoubtedly deepen my students' understanding of the plight of women in prison. It would go far to debunk myths about the lives of women in prison and to clarify and expand upon the little information provided in media outlets about women inmates and offenders."--Hillary Potter, University of Colorado-Boulder

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199734757
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 293,873
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Erin George is an inmate at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Virginia, where she is serving a life sentence for murder.

Robert Johnson is Professor of Justice, Law, and Society in the School of Public Affairs at American University. He has published extensively on prison and the death penalty, and is the editor of Victor Hassine's Life Without Parole, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2009).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Introduction Robert Johnson 1

Chapter 1 Jail Time 3

Chapter 2 Prison Time 26

Chapter 3 Love in a Cold Climate 45

Chapter 4 Violence Behind Bars: Women, Mano a Mano 54

Chapter 5 Shakedowns, Fakedowns, and Solitary Confinement 61

Chapter 6 Quality of Life (Loosely Defined) 85

Chapter 7 Living with Loss 97

Chapter 8 Programs, Privileges, and Oases of Creativity 115

Chapter 9 The Sick and the Dead 130

Chapter 10 Other Voices, Other Venues: Self-Portraits by Women in Prison 141

Chapter 11 Looking Out and Looking Back: Recidivism and Religion; Remorse and Redemption 154

Origami Heart Erin George 174

Afterword Joycelyn Pollock 176

Appendix A Terms of Entanglement: A Prison Glossary 186

Appendix B A Prison Cookbook 196

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