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Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons (Voice of Witness) Paperback


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Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons (Voice of Witness) + Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System + Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
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Product Details

  • Series: Voice of Witness
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Books; 1st edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of The National Council on Crime and Delinquency's PASS Award for Literature

"Incredibly compelling."
—Meg Waite Clayton, Huffington Post

"A chilling glimpse of the human rights abuses suffered by women in U.S. prisons... a captivating read."
—Ashley Lucas, Ms. Magazine Blog

"These stories are a gift. The women in this book compel us to imagine how their lives would be different—how we would be different—if we responded to their experience with genuine care, compassion, and concern.”
—from the foreword by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

"Inside This Place, Not Of It is precisely the kind of book we need now. In reading these narratives—so skillfully assembled, and with the accompanying statistics and data which let readers see how America and its states are complicit in taking away lives and dignity from so many women—what stands out is the poignant sense of abandonment and sadness that changed their lives from childhood, and the astonishing strength and perseverance that let them survive in prison. I will never forget these women, or this book."
—Susan Straight, author of Take One Candle Light A Room

“I am passionately, ardently grateful for the existence of this book. How else would I have ever heard the voices of these women? Where would I gain insight or understanding of the lives they describe: harrowing, riveting, rife with misogyny, and utterly unacceptable in a country that values human rights.”
—Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

“We may hear about prisons, but not much from prisoners, and certainly not from women prisoners, which makes Inside This Place, Not of It so unusual.”
–Leonard Lopate

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Crowe on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, but their voices are rarely heard. This book is an effort to make them heard. Readers can no longer skim over a statistic (over 90 percent of women in prison have suffered sexual and/or domestic abuse) but have to listen to how it shapes each individual story. The stories all unfold differently - from the places these women come from, to the crimes they're accused of and the neglect and abuse they suffer once in prison - but they all have one thing in common: the system has failed these women. What we can do now is listen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mac S. on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read Inside This Place, Not of It over the course of a few days. These are stories of abuse, it's true, but these womens' strength shine through, inspiring me to work for change in this country, as opposed to focusing on what's wrong with it. One of the main messages I got from Inside This Place was how insufficient the prison system is in this country. There are so many barriers to dealing with mental health and abuse issues, and the system in place appears to be ignoring the problem until it's impossible, and then reacting with incarceration, like in Francesca's story of abuse and violence. The narratives tell stories of violence against and abuse of inmates, but it raises questions of how to deal with the prison class as a whole, and more than anything else, whether we are dooming a class of women to life in prison through insufficient education and domestic abuse prevention. I'm so glad to have read this book, and I can't recommend it highly enough to those interested in incarceration issues in the U.S., women's issues, and mental health issues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Buck on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Even in the most well-meaning essays, the voice of the storyteller is often sidelined by the voice of the reporter. Voice of Witness allows those who do not often get the choice to tell their own story a chance to speak, free of outside interpretation.

Immensely harrowing and compelling, Inside this Place, Not of It gives incarcerated women an opportunity to be free.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By IVYSTUDENT on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Based upon the other reviews on Amazon, and a reference in a magazine, I bought this book and read it, or rather got about 1/2 the way through and stopped. The introduction is too lengthy and does not frame the methodology well, so the reader wonders how representative these vignettes are and why they were selected. Was it to prove a point? Clearly, that point is that women in prisons are increasing in number, are there as a result of bad childhoods and poor choices in men, and are abused by men in the prison system. I'm not doubting this happens, but every vignette here says the same thing. Perhaps a wider variety of statements as the many women in prison must have a wide array of stories. How about the author framing the near verbatim reports from women in prison/released from prison with data on gender, ethnicity, education, recidivism, sentencing, parole, post-scripts...the reader begs for a end to the repetition about halfway through this book. A good effort, but really is nothing but depressing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This engrossing narrative is a collection of interviews with women who have been in the prison system in this country in a number of different state prisons. Each story is its own unique tragedy but several things are common to all: the mindless brutality of our prison system and the poverty and dysfunctional lives these women come from. Most were sexually and physically abused as children often with drug addicted parents. There was no one to protect them from repeated bad decisions that dig them into deeper and deeper holes. By the time they hit the prison system they have no self-esteem, are usually drug addicted and confused, often pregnant and leave behind a path of destruction for their own families, their children and also the other victims of their awful decisions. Even the best-equipped institution in the world would hardly know what to do when faced with an army of these women descending upon it. And most of our prisons are far from that ideal institution.

The legal system completely fails them with poor legal advice and incompetent defense causing them to get very stiff sentences that would be unlikely with someone who had a good defense attorney. Inside the prisons, both guards and other inmates can be brutal and predatory. It is dreadful to watch the spirally down from abusive childhood to abusive husbands, youthful pregnancies, drug addictions, mental illnesses, stumbling into crimes, and then the draconian encounters with the legal system. They don't understand any of it and for some the first chance to soberly reflect is in prison itself. Fortunately for all of these women, someone or group eventually offers them a kind of lifeline either in friendship, mentoring, rehab or even more important, legal help and counseling, and they try to pull themselves back up.
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