In the Mix

Struggle and Survival in a Women's Prison

By Barbara Owen

Subjects: Criminology
Series: SUNY series in Women, Crime, and Criminology
Paperback : 9780791436080, 232 pages, January 1998
Hardcover : 9780791436073, 232 pages, January 1998

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Table of contents

An Introductory Note


1. In the Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women's Prison

2. A Quasi-Ethnography of Women in Prison: An Overview of Methods

3. Pathways to Imprisonment: Women's Lives before Incarceration

4. Time and Place

5. Relationships Inside and Out

6. The Mix: The Culture of Imprisoned Women



Subject Index
Author Index

Describes life inside the world's largest women's prison, from the point of view of the women themselves.


The first book-length treatment of the nature of prison culture among women in thirty years, "In the Mix" describes the prison culture in a large California prison, from the point of view of the women themselves. Based on three years of study, including participant-observation, in-depth interviews and surveys, this book describes the daily life of the prison from a variety of perspectives, with an emphasis on the gendered nature of its social organization, roles and normative frameworks.

The title, "In the Mix," describes the contours of prison culture and its themes of trouble, programming and relationships. Common themes, such as the impact of substance use, limited economic opportunity, patriarchy, survival on the streets and in the prison, thread through the individual chapters. Owen argues that prison culture for women is tied directly to the role of women in society as well as a dynamic social structure that is shaped by the conditions of women's lives in prison and in the "free world."

Barbara Owen is Professor of Criminology at California State University-Fresno. She is the author of The Reproduction of Social Control: A Study of Prison Workers at San Quentin.


"This examination of current life and culture in a women's prison is timely given the dramatic increase in the number of women incarcerated in the U.S. over the past decade and significant in that it illuminates the many differences between the ways in which men and women 'do time.'" -- Tracy Huling, Criminal Justice Consultant

"This work is an important contribution to the field of women/criminal justice and would be useful to academicians and also to those charged with the responsibility of designing policy responses to address the rising rates of female incarceration." -- Zelma W. Henriques, John Jay College, City University of New York