Voices on the Outside: Mass Incarceration and the Women Left Behind

By Michaela Simmons.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Although recent research documents the consequences of mass incarceration for those on the outside of the prison system, little research addresses women’s experiences specifically. This article examines women at the center of mass incarceration, drawing on fieldwork and interviews from female participants in the criminal justice reform organization Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS). For these women, the incarceration of a loved one is both a source of burden as well as the fuel for resistance. Their narratives reveal how the social and institutional neglect prisoners face prompts increased care-taking labor on the part of “women on the outside”, but also leaves these women as the only ‘legitimate’ voice of resistance. Because of the gendered nature of mass incarceration, women occupy a unique and powerful position in the movement for criminal justice reform, allowing for the incorporation of the ethics of gender equality.

Keywords: Mass Incarceration, Women-Centered, Collateral Damage, Motherhood, Gender Equality, Criminal Justice

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.71-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 795.368KB).

Michaela Simmons

Sociology Department, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Michaela Simmons is a recent graduate of the University of California, San Diego, with a BA in Studio Art and Sociology. The trajectory of her studies in the social sciences was profoundly shaped by her experiences as a low-income, minority student. Her research interests are inspired by the work of Mary Romero and Patricia Hill Collins, whose feminist critiques of the universal woman speak to the experiences of her own single, working-class mother. These experiences, in tandem with an interest in feminist perspectives of criminal justice reform, transformed themselves into Voices on the Outside, a senior thesis conducted with the help of her advisor Dr. Ivan Evans.

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