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Farm: Life Inside a Women's Prison

NCJ Number
A Rierden
Date Published
209 pages
This book depicts the daily struggles and concerns of female inmates at the Connecticut Correctional Institution in Niantic, the State's only prison for women.
Built in 1917 as a work farm for prostitutes, unwed mothers, and other women of allegedly immoral character, the facility has long served as a barometer of prevailing social attitudes toward women. The author conducted research on life inside the facility between 1992 and 1995. She spent more than 1,500 hours with female inmates, recorded interviews, strolled the grounds with inmates and corrections officers, shared meals, attended classes and group counseling sessions, and tracked former inmates after their release. The author learned how female inmates came to terms with their crimes and adapted to the realities of incarceration and how they formed friendships and alliances and coped with the absence of children and loved ones. She talked extensively with gang members, a prostitute with AIDS who considered the disease a spiritual gift, and a long-term inmate convicted of murdering her only child. Stories of the female inmates shed light on a variety of issues, ranging from the effects of more stringent drug laws and sentences to the rise of violence among inmates. The author concludes the ideal of rehabilitation at the female correctional facility has largely been abandoned and replaced by a belief in punishment and retribution. References and photographs