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Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons Curriculum

The oral history narratives of Inside This Place, Not of It reveal egregious human rights violations within women’s prisons, illustrating the harrowing struggles for survival that incarcerated women must endure. These accompanying lesson plans allow students to examine intersectionality and gender bias as well as reproductive rights within the context of the U.S. criminal justice system. These lessons will help your students explore the following questions:

  • What are the physical, emotional, and psychological impacts of incarceration?
  • In which ways does the legal system mimic injustice in the world surrounding issues of gender and intersectional identities?

Grades: High school

Time Needed: Entire curriculum covers approximately 2 weeks of class time. However, each lesson can be taught separately.


  • Students will analyze and explore the challenges faced by women in prison while addressing larger issues within the U.S criminal justice system.
  • Students will discuss personal agency, free will, and determinism, within the U.S. criminal justice system.
  • Students will examine the various ways in which our intersectional identities affect our lives.

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Inside This Place, Not of It is essential reading for anyone interested in the stories of women who compel us to see their humanity, tenacity, and value as people. That the woman who share their stories here have lived within the vast U.S. criminal justice system reveals a hidden and heart-wrenching reality. Their voices insist that the civil and human rights abuses that take place daily behind the walls of our prisons and jails must be out in the open to be recognized and remedied.

Piper Kerman
author of Orange is the New Black

About the Oral Histories

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.”

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