Edited by Ayelet Waldman and Robin Levi with a Foreword by Michelle Alexander

Inside This Place, Not of It reveals some of the most egregious human rights violations within women’s prisons in the United States. In their own words, the thirteen narrators in this book recount their lives leading up to incarceration and their experiences inside—ranging from forced sterilization and shackling during childbirth, to physical and sexual abuse by prison staff. Together, their testimonies illustrate the harrowing struggles for survival that women in prison must endure.

As Michelle Alexander writes in her foreword: “These are personal narratives not only of suffering, but of human dignity and survival against all the odds. Hope flickers, even through recollections of painful childhoods, poverty, and domestic and institutional abuse. It is this hope that allows us to envision a way out, a path toward a more forgiving, compassionate, and caring society, one that attempts to solve social ills and improve the lives of our most vulnerable rather than sweeping them behind bars.”

Read a review in Ms. Magazine

Listen to a conversation with the editors on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show

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IRMA RODRIGUEZ, who spent years believing her health and life were in danger, being aggressively treated with a variety of medications for a disease she never had. Only once she was released from prison did her doctors inform her that the incompetent prison medical bureaucracy had misdiagnosed her with HIV.

ANNA JACOBS, who repeatedly warned prison guards about a suicidal cellmate, but the guards refused to take any action. After the woman killed herself, Anna was retaliated against and intimidated when she tried to tell investigators about the guards’ refusal to prevent the death.

TERI HANCOCK, who was sentenced to 16 – 50 years for aiding and abetting a robbery when she was only 17. Teri was raped at the age of 19 by a 44 year old prison guard. The rapes continued for more than three years with the knowledge and assistance of other guards.


Ayelet Waldman is the bestselling author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Daughter’s Keeper, Red Hook Road, Bad Mother, and, most recently Love and Treasure. She has also written for the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.
Robin Levi is a consultant working in the field of human rights, and she is the former human rights director at Justice Now. While a staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, she documented sexual abuse of women in U.S. state prisons.
Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, a civil rights advocate and writer. She is best known for her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.