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Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women's Prisons (Voice of Witness) Paperback – November 8, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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
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Product Details

  • Series: Voice of Witness (Book 8)
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Books; 1st edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365500
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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 book is amazing! I could not put it down once I started reading it! It gives such great insight into the life of these women and how unfairly treated they are. These stories break your heart, it just hurts to know how these women doing such petty crimes are treated so horribly, just to get through in life and to give their children a better life, they are punished so harshly. I understand that what they did was wrong, but it was for a reason, it was to survive, it was to live, it was to give life, it was to give a better life to others, it was for their children, for their families, for themselves - and yet they have been treated like scum of the earth. I appreciate these women so much for being so strong and brave enough to tell us their stories. One thing I learned my first semester as a graduate student was that a person's experience is fact and by telling their story, they are giving knowledge that is true and pure and helpful to others to understand the realities of situations such as in this book. Power to these ladies!
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