Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-5381-1302-8 • Hardback • June 2019 • $40.00 • (£31.00)
978-1-5381-1303-5 • eBook • June 2019 • $38.00 • (£29.00)
Meredith Dye, PhD, is a professor of sociology at Middle Tennessee State University. Her research focuses on the effects of incarceration, prison suicide, and women in prison. Recent publications have appeared in Women and Criminal Justice, Prison Journal, and Criminal Justice and Behavior.
Ronald H. Aday, PhD, is a professor of sociology at Middle Tennessee State University. He has published several books including Crime and the Elderly, Aging Prisoners: Crisis in American Corrections, and Women Aging in Prison as well as over fifty articles and book chapters.
In this powerful report on a broken system, two sociology professors look at the depressingly large number of women sentenced to life in prison. They conducted in-depth surveys of female lifers in their home state, Georgia, but also take measure of the 112,000 women nationwide living federal and state prisons, a huge increase since 1980, when only 13,000 were incarcerated. Currently 6,700 women are serving life, life without parole, or 50 or more years behind bars, representing seven-percent of the overall correctional population and just four-percent of lifers. Most of the lifers are moms, and many, as one woman put it, watched their children “grow up in pictures.” Interestingly, 83-percent of the women in the authors’ sample indicated a history of being abused, and more than half reported no drug or alcohol problems before their incarceration. In prison, many live exemplary lives, turning to faith and mentoring younger women. Dye and Aday state that they want to give policymakers, prison officials, and the public “a better understanding of the lived experiences of this voiceless group of prisoners.” Goal achieved.— Booklist
In a shattering analysis of the misogynist structures that produce and punish women lawbreakers, Women Lifers charts the injustices affecting more than 200 incarcerated women who share their heartbreaking insights and methods of survival both inside and outside of prison. This book offers the kind of desperately needed research that has the power to generate policy change in a tyrannical system that threatens the freedom of us all. — Carol Jacobsen, professor, University of Michigan, and author of For Dear Life: Women's Decarceration and Human Rights in Focus
In the worlds of academic debate and penal reform much attention is given to the need to provide alternatives to imprisonment for women serving short custodial sentences and to the need to minimise the disruption to their lives that such sentences can entail. Women Lifers: Lives Before, Behind, and Beyond Bars takes us into oft-hidden territory: the reasons for the increase in the number of female lifers, and more particularly, how women find themselves in the predicament of long-term imprisonment and what it is like for them. The book presents us with compelling and moving stories from women lifers, focusing on their pathways in to prison, their lives in prison and how they have adjusted, and then on expectations, hopes, and for those eligible, preparation for release. The authors have made women lifers and the issues which pervade their lives both visible and memorable through sensitive and nuanced research. This is a very important, lucid and thought-provoking book which deserves wide readership.— Loraine Gelsthorpe, Director, and Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK
Women Lifers: Lives Before, Behind, and Beyond Bars exposes the experiences of individuals who are largely voiceless and invisible in the penal system – women serving life sentences. The book is not only an authoritative text on female offenders, but more importantly, it captures, in their own words, the struggles, wisdoms, and hopes of women living life behind bars.— Mary Ellen Mastrorilli, Associate Professor of the Practice, Boston University Metropolitan College
The authors provide all the necessary background and contextual information about women and crime for any reader to understand and appreciate the punitiveness of lifer policies in the US. At the same time, through extensive interviewing, the authors brilliantly disabuse lifers as violent bloodthirsty criminals. Instead, they vividly document how an abusive partner, a sub-par education, or a dead-end job can collide into the unthinkable – life behind bars.— Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University - Bloomington
Overall, “Women Lifers” accomplishes what it set out to do. It highlights and gives a voice to a U.S. prison population that doesn’t normally receive as much focus or analysis, and it allows the reader to see the women behind their sentences. It offers a lot of research and information that can be used to suggest reform in various parts of the correctional system, and hopefully it can be used as a source to better understand the lifer population in the U.S. It also has the added value that many of its findings and conclusions can apply to prison populations beyond just the lifer population, so corrections professionals should examine it for findings that will educate them on matters that relate to inmates of all sentence levels.— American Correctional Association
- Gives voice to the experiences of a difficult to reach and often ignored population within American criminal justice system.
- Highlights the diversity of women lifers’ experiences.
- Presents findings based on one of the largest samples of women lifers.
- Connects women’s experiences with the larger social and policy contexts which frame their lives before, behind, and beyond bars.
- Offers recommendations for policy change regarding parole consideration for women lifers in the state.