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A World Apart: Women, Prison, and Life Behind Bars
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A World Apart: Women, Prison, and Life Behind Bars

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Life in a women's prison is full of surprises," writes Cristina Rathbone in her landmark account of life at MCI-Framingham. And so it is. After two intense court battles with prison officials, Rathbone gained unprecedented access to the otherwise invisible women of the oldest running women's prison in America.
The picture that emerges is both astounding and enraging. Women
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Random House Trade (first published May 17th 2005)
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Finding myself desperate for more when I finished the first season of Orange Is The New Black, I ordered the titular novel and this book. While Orange Is The New Black was an entertaining, informative read, it has nothing on A World Apart.

Interchanging present day narrative of inmates she has interviewed and the history of prison in Massachusetts and the broader United States, Rathbone captured my fascination in the same way Krakauer did with Under the Banner of Heaven. The transition between th
An enlightening look inside MCI-Framingham, the women's prison. Should be required reading for all criminal justice majors, and all politicians who want to cut funding for rehabilitation and educational programs in prisons (both men's and women's). Yes, you will find this depressing, but perhaps it will prompt you to take more of an interest in how prisoners are treated in your own state. Well-written and fair; the author isn't sugar-coating these women's lives or crimes, but she does illustrate ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Corey added it
This is a well-written book with in-depth personal looks at the lives of several women imprisoned in Massachusetts. The author weaves history of incarceration in the state (and some national information as well) through the personal accounts of women. It was also interesting to read about the author's struggles in gaining access to the prisons in order to conduct her research and how the Department of Corrections stood in her way. Overall, a very interesting and disturbing read which humanizes t ...more
Taylor Hutchcraft
Must read book for all Criminal Justice majors, gives you an insight on how women in prison is treated and how they feel while in prison!!

Here are some causes you can take up instead of the plights of women (or men) behind bars:

Won't someone think of the cockroaches?

Pond scum has a right to rehab and rehabilitation to become a productive member of plant society!

This one's for me - I fucking hate baboons, but I care more for them than prisoners.

Now I'm in a cranky mood because a simple Bing search for baboons turned up a lot of disgusting baboon butts.

I picked up this book thinking it would tide me over until the new seasons of
Laura H
Read this as a follow-up to Orange Is the New Black. While centering on the narratives of four women in a state prison in Massachusetts, this book was more successful at addressing the broader issues of social justice, sexism, transparency and accountability, and reform. Very enlightening.
Kat Daley
This book dramatically opened my eyes to what life was like behind bars for women these days. This book brings the profiles of different women alive in a while new way.
Not as riveting as Orange Is The New Black, but very good. The book also had an interesting look at how corrections departments try to keep the media away.
Margie Shelton
The author documents her visits with female inmates at two federal prisons over a period of time. The stories are of life behind bars and the life that lead to life behind bars. The book is interesting, depressing, and, by the end, exhausting - with the "high school" carryings-on. The author fills in with some interesting history of women's prisons in the U.S. Discussions of education, skills, mandatory sentencing, and solitary confinement.
compassionate, informative, sometimes hard to read. certainly deeper than Orange is the New Black and offers more insight both into the prison system in the US as well as the lives of incarcerated women. reaches the heart and the mind of the reader.
interesting look at life in a women's prison, though not very well organized
Aug 01, 2008 Joel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: social
An incredibly interesting and heart wrenching look into the lives of incarcerated women. Are we treating female criminals correctly? Can we do something other than conventional incarceration for female convicts? Why do the crimes many women commit land them in prison? These are just a few of the questions this book raises and even tries to answer, or at least shed some light on.
The story of the women in Framingham Prison was of course upsetting. It disturbed me greatly to learn so many mothers are behind bars and so many for non violent crime. I was saddened to learn that women with mental disabilities are not housed in medical facilities as one would expect, but often times locked in prison where they can cause harm to themselves and others.
Jun 27, 2009 Chelsea rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in alternative stories
Surprisingly, I couldn't put this book down. I had picked it up to do some research for a project I'm thinking about starting and not only was it killer interesting but Rathbone's writing style is so seriously engaging that I caught myself wishing that I could write just like her. Her dedication to her work is inspiring and I'd read another of hers in a heart beat.
Feb 23, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who want to know about what goes on in their own criminal justice system
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this piece of non-fiction. I had to read it for a "Women and Crime" course and it really opened my eyes to the world of women's prisons, what they go through and the outrageous policy of Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing. It really makes you feel for the women who give their stories.
Mar 09, 2007 Ethan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
It’s very apparent throughout this book that the author doesn’t get access to the actual prison. The story starts out strong, but relies too much on somewhat cliché characters, typical inmates.
This was an eye-opening book about women in prison. I knew of the inequities within prisons for women, but this hit home. I learned more about the history of women's prisons.
crisp and fierce... very good sense of women in Framingham state prison, as well as the history of jailing women, for poor attitudes adn sometimes worse.
Interesting history of women's prisons in the US- along with personal stories. Orange is the New Black but fer reels.
A book that told me a lot about the state of women's prisons here in the US. A very sad book, but with flashes of hope thrown in.
A look at what incarcerated women really experience, how they got there, and how they survive.
I reviewed A World Apart here.
I couldn't put it down, great book about Framingham.
Sally Kenney
Riveting, yet sad. Reads like a novel. So much to do.
Amazing read. Launched my prison activism.
Ashley marked it as to-read
Sep 23, 2015
Hallie Shoffner
Hallie Shoffner is currently reading it
Aug 27, 2015
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