Vikki Law, who also edits a zine by and for incarcerated women called Tenacious, has written a dense (664 endnotes!), but eminently readable chronicle of the struggles and travails of women in prison.
Law's account is impeccably researched and documented and is followed with a glossary, list of resources, extensive bibliography, and index. She has been actively engaged in reading and writing about and corresponding with women prisoners for nearly eight years, and it shows. She manages to communicate her passion while maintaining her objectivity, a victory I think, for the independent or activist scholar.
Each chapter focuses on a particular theme, e.g. Mothers and Children, laying out the seemingly insurmountable problems the women face, their fight for basic liberties against retaliatory guards and all-powerful administrators with very little outside accountability and then gives examples of how the women have fought back. Although Law does site uprisings and other acts of rebellion that are more likely to garner media attention and activist acclaim than letter writing campaigns, an important theme in the book is how women's resistance often takes different forms than men's on the inside, just as it does outside of prison.
This book is ridiculously informative, but be warned it is also meant to incite. As Vikki inscribed in my copy, "Remember, prisons don't fall on their own--they need that extra push!"