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Women in Prison: Gender and Social Control

Barbara H. Zaitzow and Jim Thomas, editors
Women in Prison: Gender and Social Control
ISBN: 978-1-58826-228-8
ISBN: 978-1-58826-945-4
2003/251 pages/LC: 2003046720

"An excellent contribution to the study of women in prison. All the authors represent a fresh point of view with a distinctive voice."—Barbara Owen, California State University, Fresno

"Provides a unique way to examine gender and social control in women's prisons and at the same time challenges existing penal philosophies."—Susan Miller, University of Delaware


It is old news that the conditions and policies of women's prisons are different from those of incarcerated men. Less evident, however, is how gender differences shape those policies, and how gender identity and roles shape women's adaptation and resistance to prison culture and control. Women in Prison explores how the gender-based attitudes that women bring to prison frame how they respond to the prison environment—and how gender stereotypes continue to affect the treatment and opportunities of incarcerated women today.

The authors focus especially on how the personal and social problems imported into the prison setting become part of the intricate web of prison culture. Their study reveals just how extensively women's prison experience reflects the control and domination they experienced in the outside world.


Barbara H. Zaitzow is associate professor of criminal justice at Appalachian State University. She has investigated prisons in Virginia, Illinois, and North Carolina and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. She is active in advocacy work for prisoners and local community corrections programs and also serves as an instructor for the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Jim Thomas is professor of sociology and criminal justice at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of The Paradox of the Jailhouse Lawyer and Doing Critical Ethnography. He has been researching both men's and women's prisons since 1980. A member of the John Howard Association ( a prison-monitoring organization), he is active in prison reform.


  • Gendered Control in Prisons: The Difference Difference Makes—J. Thomas.
  • "Doing Gender" in a Women's Prison—B. Zaitzow.
  • Gendered Perceptions of Dangerous or Dependent Women: "Gun Molls" and "Fallen Women"—E. Heffernan.
  • Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance—K.J. Ferraro and A.M. Moe.
  • Abused Women and Incarceration—L.B. Girshick.
  • Imprisoned Mothers and Their Children—S.F. Sharp and M.E. Eriksen.
  • Gender, Race, and Sexuality in Prison—M. Bosworth.
  • Parallels in the Prison Experiences of Women and Men—R.S. Jones and T.J. Schmid.
  • Ultramasculine Stereotypes and Violence in the Control of Female Inmates—F.E. Lutze.
  • Conclusion: Moving Forward—J. Thomas.