Razor Wire Women

Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists

Edited by Jodie Michelle Lawston & Ashley E. Lucas

Subjects: Women's Studies, Criminology, Fiction, Literacy Studies, Art
Series: SUNY series in Women, Crime, and Criminology
Paperback : 9781438435329, 349 pages, April 2011
Hardcover : 9781438435312, 349 pages, April 2011

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations, Charts,Tables
3x Denied cover

Artist’s statement: Dawna(Lessie) Brown

Kathy Boudin and Ruth Snyder

Artist’s statement: Malaquias Montoya


1. From Representations to Resistance: How the Razor Wire Binds Us
Jodie Michelle Lawston

Section I. Girls, Women, and Families


Artist’s statement: Ricky A. Taylor

Historical Contextualization
Jodie Michelle Lawston

2. The Voice of Silence
Je’Anna Redwood

3. Doing Time in Detention Home: Gendered Punishment Regimes in Youth Jails
Brian Bilsky and Meda Chesney-Lind

4. Healer: A Monologue from the Play Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass
Ashley Lucas

5. Incarcerated Women: Motherhood on the Margins
Barbara Bloom and Marilyn Brown

6. Doing Time with Mom: A Nonfiction Essay
Shirley Haviland-Nakagawa

7. ASFA and the Impact on Imprisoned Migrant Women and Their Children
Martha Escobar

8. Carceral State, Cultural Stake: Women behind American Bars and Beyond
Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen

Section II. Sexuality, Health, and Abuse


Artist’s statement: Joanie Estes-Rodgers

Historical Contextualization
Jodie Michelle Lawston

9. The Prison Mentality
Jane Dorotik

10. “If I Wasn’t Suicidal, That’ll Drive You to It”: Women, Jail, and Mental Health
Angela Moe

11. Patiently Waiting
Jen Myers

Caged Innocence

Artist’s statement: Patricia K. Thorn

12. Transgender Women, Sexual Violence, and the Rule of Law: An Argument in Favor of Restorative and Transformative Justice
Linda Heidenreich

13. Prison Rape
Johanna Hudnall

14. From Women Prisoners to People in Women’s Prisons: Challenging the Gender Binary in Antiprison Work
Julia Sudbury

15. Giving the Voiceless a Voice
Renita Phifer

Section III. Education, Writing, and the Arts

Caught up on the Whirlwind

Artist’s statement: Valencia C.

Historical Contextualization
Ashley E. Lucas, Connie Convicta and Vato Emiliano Comics
Artist’s statement: Ana Lucia Gelabert

16.Inside-Out: The Reaches and Limits of a Prison Program
Simone Weil Davis

17. Desiree
Leslie Levitas

18. Restorytive Justice: Theater as a Redressive Mechanism for Incarcerated Women
Sara Warner

19. On Visual Politics and Poetics:Incarcerated Girls and Women Artists
Jillian Hernandez

20. Hope in a Box: Sanity Sold Separately
Sisters of Unique Lyrics (SOUL)

21. The Life Inside: Incarcerated Women Represent Themselves through Journalism
Eleanor Novek

Epilogue.Identifying Marks: What the Razor Wire Hides
Ashley E. Lucas

List of Contributors

Collection of essays and art by scholars, artists and activists both in and out of prison that reveal the many dimensions of women’s incarcerated experiences.


Offering nuanced portraits of women's lives inside razor wire and prison walls, Razor Wire Women puts incarcerated women in dialogue with scholars, artists, educators and activists who live outside of prisons but work on issues connected to the prison industrial complex. Women make up the fastest-growing group of the U.S. prison population, yet prison scholarship largely overlooks the struggles of incarcerated women, and their voices are often silenced both in and out of the prison infrastructure. From the vantage points of those both inside and outside of prisons, this collection of essays and art illuminates many of the distinct experiences and concerns of incarcerated women, including those of girls in prison, abuse and rape, the policing of women, incarcerated motherhood, mental health issues in prisons, incarcerated women's artistic and cultural production, and prisons' impact on families, health, and sexuality. Combining the transcendence, hope and clarity of art with powerful analytical and conceptual tools, Razor Wire Women reveals the gendered dimensions of the incarceration now experienced by a growing number of women in the U.S.

Jodie Michelle Lawston is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at California State University San Marcos and the author of Sisters Outside: Radical Activists Working for Women Prisoners, also published by SUNY Press. Ashley E. Lucas is Assistant Professor of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina and the author and performer of the play Doin' Time: Through the Visiting Glass.