Women and Their Children in Prison: An American Tragedy

Many years ago, I wrote about a program for women giving birth behind hars at Rahway Prison in upstate New York. Saw Jean Harris (then incarcerated for killing her lover Dr. Herman Tarnower and helping inmates at Rahway.) Babies who left that curious nursery environment (at age 1 year or thereabouts) often initially had trouble adjusting to the sounds of freedom. Traffic…and life in general. Some of their mothers had many years left to serve.

Kids in the system

The following piece originally appeared on Beacon Broadside. Author and advocate Deborah Jiang Stein, through her own personal experience, brings to light a world so few of us know exists. Although the media–for better or worse–will focus on men in prison we hear very little about women serving time. It is a fast growing population, an invisible population, that is neglected not only in our public discourse about incarceration but in the prison world itself. Women in jail are horribly under-served, and that’s saying a lot since male inmates are equally under-served in terms of health care, mental health treatment, education and rehabilitative programs. And now Stein calls our attention to an even more invisible world, that of children born and raised in prison.

prison baby

In her memoir Prison Baby, now available from Beacon Press, author Deborah Jiang Stein describes the pain and confusion she experiences upon finding out…

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Books in prisons: a vital lifeline

The confines of a cell without books – therein madness lies. News from the UK.

The Reader Online

New rules by the justice secretary ban anyone sending books to prisoners. The Reader Organisation does not support this measure and urges you to sign this petition opposing restrictions on reading.

The stats about reading speak for themselves:

  • 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school lack basic literacy skills (National Literacy Trust)
  • 60% of the prison population lack basic literacy skills (National Literacy Trust)
  • 20% cannot fill in a job application form (Prison Reform Trust)
  • 75% of adult prisoners have a dual diagnosis of mental health problems combined with alcohol or drug misuse (Prison Reform Trust)

Writer, TRO patron and former prisoner Erwin James wrote about our work in prisons for the Guardian recently, and is interviewed in the brand new issue of The Reader magazine about his own prison reading experiences. For him, it is clear that reading offered the possibility of change:

I did not think…

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