Soledad Women: Wives of Prisoners Speak Out

Synopsis

Little attention has been paid to the lives led by families of prisoners. Using a feminist approach, the author explores how the lives of 25 wives of prisoners at Soledad prison are affected by the incarceration of their husbands. Relationships, stigma, coping, finances, children, the prison system, and rehabilitation are explored through in-depth interviews. This study describes the experiences of the wives and seeks to connect their experiences to a conceptual framework that explores the context of sex, race, and class inequalities. The author discusses prison policy recommendations to improve the lot of prisoners' families, emphasizing the ways in which life is organized in families where the husband/father is imprisoned. Several themes emerge in this work. The powerful role of the "wife," women as caretakers, and the subordinate position these women hold in society due to their sex, class, and race, are some examples. Recommendations are made to ease the burden of visiting, and encourage maintenance of family roles.

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