Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women

Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women


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Winner of the 2018 National Council on Crime & Delinquency’s Media for a Just Society Awards

Winner of the 2017 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice

“Valuable . . . [like Michelle] Alexander's The New Jim Crow.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Susan Burton is a national treasure . . . her life story is testimony to the human capacity for resilience and recovery . . . [Becoming Ms. Burton is] a stunning memoir.”
—Nicholas Kristof, in The New York Times

Winner of the prestigious NAACP Image Award, a uniquely American story of trauma, incarceration, and "the breathtaking resilience of the human spirit" (Michelle Alexander)

Widely hailed as a stunning memoir, Becoming Ms. Burton is the remarkable life story of the renowned activist Susan Burton.

In this "stirring and moving tour-de-force" (John Legend), Susan Burton movingly recounts her own journey through the criminal justice system and her transformation into a life of advocacy. After a childhood of immense pain, poverty, and abuse in Los Angeles, the tragic loss of her son led her into addiction, which in turn led to arrests and incarceration. During the War on Drugs, Burton was arrested and would cycle in and out of prison for more than fifteen years. When, by chance, she finally received treatment, her political awakening began and she became a powerful advocate for "a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity" (Booklist, starred review). Her award-winning organization, A New Way of Life, has transformed the lives of more than one thousand formerly incarcerated women and is an international model for a less punitive and more effective approach to rehabilitation and reentry.

Winner of an NAACP Image Award and named a "Best Book of 2017" by the Chicago Public Library, here is an unforgettable book about "the breathtaking resilience of the human spirit" (Michelle Alexander).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620974353
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 115,073
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Susan Burton is the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that provides sober housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. Nationally known as an advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time, Burton was a winner of AARP’s prestigious Purpose Prize and has been a Starbucks “Upstander,” a CNN Top 10 Hero, and a Soros Justice Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles. Cari Lynn is a journalist and the author of five books of nonfiction, including Leg the Spread and The Whistleblower (with Kathryn Bolkovac). Lynn has written for O, The Oprah Magazine; Health; the Chicago Tribune; and Deadline Hollywood. She lives in Los Angeles. Michelle Alexander is the author of the bestselling The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press). She lives in Ohio.

Table of Contents

Foreword Michelle Alexander xi

Prologue xix

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 85

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

Acknowledgments 283

Further Reading 287

Suggested Resources 289

Notes 291

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