Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System

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More and more women—mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters, and sisters—are doing hard prison time all across the United States. Many of them are facing the prospect of years, decades, even lifetimes behind bars. Oddly, there’s been little public discussion about the dramatic increase of women in the prison system. What exactly is happening here, and why?

The answers are in Women Behind Bars, in which investigative journalist Silja Talvi sheds light on why American girls and women are being locked up at such unprecedented rates.

Talvi travels across the country to weave together interviews with inmates, correctional officers, and administrators, providing readers with a glance at the impact incarceration has on our society. With a combination of compassion and critical analysis, Talvi delivers a timely, in-depth analysis of a growing and extremely complicated issue.

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Editorial Reviews

Ms. Magazine
[G]iven the stories of struggle and dignity culled from Talvi's interviews with about 100 imprisoned girls and women, it's hard to dismiss their humanity ... Like mirrors in a house of horrors, the women in Talvi's book reflect the distorted collective flaws of our society: violence, addiction, poverty, pervasive low self-esteem and families trapped in chronic financial and emotional crises.
—Joy James
Seattle Magazine
In addition to blasting readers with stats and analysis, Talvi offers harrowing profiles of female prisoners such as Elizabeth Cronan, who is serving a 28-year sentence in California for a first-time meth offense. Overall, Talvi's solid research, poignant anecdotes and one-on-one interviews with prisoners and correction officers makes Women Behind Bars a compelling, well-rounded read.
—Elizabeth M. Economou
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580051958
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 480,765
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    This book is well researched, well documented and beautifully told. Talvi steps behind the walls of various women's prison systems and gets right at the truth of what goes on. We're shown how the system treats women accused of committing crimes and the disparity with their male counterparts. We meet women who have suffered horribly from lack of medical care for health conditions unique to females. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, some enlightening and others infuriating. Everyone should read this book because what happens to these women ultimately affects us all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    Investigative journalist, Silja J.A.Talvi offers a riveting and penetrating account of women in prison, both here and abroad. She captivates the reader by focusing on the plight of women¿many of which are first-time, non-violent offenders¿whose lives are irrevocably destroyed by the United States penal system. Most heart-breaking for me were the chapters dealing with Criminalizing Motherhood and Dangerous Medicine. Our criminal justice system is failing miserably. The images of women behind bars faced with squalor and mass crowding, unsanitary conditions, lack of adequate nutrition, untreated terminal illnesses, will continue to haunt me until reform in this country becomes a reality. The subject matter is intense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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