This book entitled Health Issues among Incarcerated Women, edited by Ronald L. Braithwaite, Kimberly Jacob Arriola, and Cassandra Newkirk, is a clarion call to all who work to eliminate gender bias, assure women's rights, support strong families, reduce health disparities, and champion social justice. The authors are to be commended for developing a comprehensive and informative compendium of gender health issues for incarcerated women. Racial and ethnic disparities are described in the first chapter. The reader is then taken on a journey that examines the issues of adolescents and adults. Age-related issues are just one valuable aspect of the book as the reader also examines the specific conditions ranging from interpersonal violence, infectious diseases, prenatal care, mental health, and substance abuse treatment to chronic diseases.
The stories of the women in the text are particularly illuminating. The plaintive voice of one woman is heartwrenching. In her words, “Being sick in prison is like being buried alive.” This statement is a stirring indictment of the system that women must endure while incarcerated. But the trauma does not end there. There is palpable agony in the words of women as they describe their efforts to reunite with their children and families with no assistance from reentry or public social support systems. The reader must conclude that the system inside prison and the reentry systems are not geared towards individuals' rehabilitation, nor are they family centered. The reader must ask themselves how we, as a nation, have come to this place.
The authors dissect the complex, multisectoral issues that facilitate incarceration and illuminate the plethora of social and physical morbidities that exist and that are not addressed effectively by the prison primary health care system. Poignantly, there is an underlying theme of social distress that reappears in every chapter. The theme is woven around historical discrimination that women have faced in their struggle for equal access, equal pay, equal opportunity, and for honor and respect. Discrimination and lack of respect towards women continues