Iincarcerated women in the United States are largely an invisible
population because of their small numbers, their involvement in
less violent and serious offenses, and their neglect by most
criminologists. Yet all too often prison has become a dumping
ground for women who lack options for self-support, or who need
drug treatment, job training, or a haven from battering.
This work draws on the life stories of forty women inmates at a
minimum security prison in North Carolina. It explores their lives
before imprisonment, enabling the reader to understand their
incarceration within the context of childhood and adolescent
experiences, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, low
education levels, and poor work histories. Lori B. Girshick relates
the prisoners' views of doing time, the criminal justice system,
and their own rehabilitation. She also interviews family members,
friends, and social service providers to show how support networks
function or fail.
Girshick argues convincingly that the treatment of women in
society creates circumstances that lead some of them to break the
law, and she makes specific recommendations for policies that
address the need for social change and for community programs
designed to deter crime.
Solidly grounded in feminist research methodology, this
important and original work offers a fresh perspective on both
women prisoners and the administration of criminal justice.
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