Women at the Wall is the first ethnographic study of how the arrest, trial, imprisonment, and release of male criminals affects their families, particularly their wives. It relies on first-person accounts by prisoners' wives, providing details about the changing texture of their marital relationships and the accompanying stigmatization.
From this book we learn about the effects of enforced spousal separation, and the control husbands maintain even during incarceration. We also learn that wives devise ingenious interpretations and explanations regarding their husbands' criminality, and how they attempt to establish stable, conventional lives for themselves while supporting their husbands through the various stages of the criminal justice system.
These women reveal not only their hardships and losses, but also their resourcefulness in coping with their husbands' criminality, their families and friends, and the prison system itself.
Laura T. Fishman is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont.