One woman’s remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recoveryand recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement
Susan Burton’s world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van on their street in South Los Angeles. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted first to cocaine, then crack. As a resident of South L.A., an impoverished black community under siege by the War on Drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for fifteen years; never was she offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility.
Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. She began by greeting women as they took their first steps of freedom, welcoming them into her home, providing a space of safety and community. Her organization, A New Way of Life, now operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their childrensetting them on the track to education and employment rather than returns to prison. Susan is now nationally known as an advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time. Ms. Burton not only humanizes the deleterious impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of a life of meaning and dignity.
|Publisher:||New Press, The|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Susan Burton is a formerly incarcerated woman who after nearly two decades in the criminal justice system was unable to find work, housing, or adequate addiction-recovery treatment. She gained freedom and sobriety in 1997 and made it her life’s work to help other women walking in her shoes. In 2010 she was nominated as a CNN Top 10 Hero and received the Citizen Activist Award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has been a Soros Justice Fellow and a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow at the California Wellness Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles.
Cari Lynn is a journalist and the author of four books of nonfiction, including The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice with Kathryn Bolkovac, and Leg the Spread: A Woman’s Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boy’s Club of Commodities Trading. Cari has written for O, The Oprah Magazine, Health, the Chicago Tribune, and Deadline Hollywood. She lives in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Foreword Michelle Alexander xi
Part I Sue
1 Now What? 3
2 Land of Opportunity 8
3 Daddy's Girl 14
4 Hit the Road 19
5 The Sacrifice 26
6 Things You Don't Talk About 34
7 The Life 46
8 From the Skillet to the Frying Pan 54
9 No Justice, No Peace 62
10 A New Drug 69
11 Incarceration Nation 75
12 Collateral Damage
13 The Revolving Door 94
14 The Vicious Cycle 99
15 Hurt People 107
16 A Tale of Two Systems 115
17 A Way Out 127
18 Finding Purpose 134
Part II Ms. Burton
19 A New Way of Life 143
20 The Wall of No 153
21 Who's Profiting from Our Pain? 159
22 Women and Prison 170
23 A Kindred Spirit 177
24 Taking Food off the Table 181
25 Broke Leg House 185
26 From Trash, to Treasure 193
27 All of Us or None 200
28 Treating the Symptoms and the Disease 206
29 The Meaning of Life 216
30 The Women from Orange County 222
31 Being Beholden 226
32 Living an Impossible Life 233
33 The House That Discrimination Built 241
34 Women Organizing for Justice and Opportunity 245
35 What Would Ms. Sybil Brand Think? 255
36 Without Representation 260
37 Prop 47 264
38 The Movement 273
39 The Arc Bends Toward Justice 276
Further Reading 287
Suggested Resources 289
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is incredibly well written. Very moving. And it's also keeping me up. I want to DO something towards the cause, but not sure what. Reading how much Ms. Burton has accomplished in the last 20 years or so is incredible. I want to have that kind of passion and energy. I have about 30 pages left in the book and I can barely keep track on how many initiatives and projects she's been a part of (this is because she's is so incredibly active in multiple arenas. Not due to poor writing. the writing is excellent) I also really appreciate reading how various political leaders interweave in her story. I'm already a fan of my House Representative, Maxine Waters - finding her within the pages of this book, makes me like/appreciate her even more. Many other political leaders make an appearance. It is also really surprising to discover the many ways that political leaders failed, at least, leaders that I thought should have done better. While we all know that politicians strategize everything, because it's all about appearances, it's really bizarre to read how those "superficial strategies/messages/values" play out in people's lives. That Democrats such as Gray Davis and Bill Clinton made political decisions that may have been good for appearances, but certainly didn't do the Black community any favors. Makes me even more wary of my already shaky Democratic connection (we need a viable 3rd party!) This book is personal, political, motivating, and so many more things rolled into one well written package. There is so much more that I want to say, but I am still processing this book.
Excellent read. If you are not involved this book will wake you up.
Wow, what a great read! This book is...... Inspirational and insightful Extremely well written Powerful story of a relevant topic You must add this to your list of reads. Was delighted to hear this being discussed on Fresh Air today too!
Such a gripping narrative and so well written, I couldn't put it down! A remarkable story of a woman overcoming so many obstacles to finally achieve success and then go on to help others as only someone who has been there can do. A MUST READ for anyone who cares about promoting social justice, giving second chances and learning the story behind a trailblazing woman!