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Jailcare: Finding the Safety Net for Women Behind Bars - Author Talk

Jailcare: Finding the Safety Net for Women Behind Bars - Author Talk

Join us at the Potter's House on June 6th at 6:00pm for a discussion with the author Carolyn Sufrin, and Amy Fettig, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.

“Jailcare is a moving and galvanizing story of pregnant women in jail and those responsible for their health...it is essential reading for anyone who cares about women, children, and justice."- Piper Kerman, Author of Orange is the New Black

Thousands of pregnant women pass through our nation’s jails every year. What happens to them as they carry their pregnancies in a space of punishment? In this time when the public safety net is frayed, incarceration has become a central and racialized strategy for managing the poor. Using her ethnographic fieldwork and clinical work as an ob-gyn in a women’s jail, Carolyn Sufrin explores how jail has, paradoxically, become a place where women can find care.

Focusing on the experiences of incarcerated pregnant women as well as on the practices of the jail guards and health providers who care for them, Jailcare describes the contradictory ways that care and maternal identity emerge within a punitive space presumed to be devoid of care. Sufrin argues that jail is not simply a disciplinary institution that serves to punish. Rather, when understood in the context of the poverty, addiction, violence, and racial oppression that characterize these women’s lives and their reproduction, jail has, tragically, become a safety net for women on the margins of society.

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Carolyn Sufrin is a medical anthropologist and obstetrician/gynecologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  She worked as a physician at the San Francisco jail from 2007-2013, where she started an onsite women's health specialty clinic.   Her work is dedicated to research, advocacy, and care for incarcerated women, especially at the intersection of health care and criminal justice system reform.

Sufrin earned an MD from Johns Hopkins, a PhD in medical anthropology from University of California at San Francisco, an MA in cultural anthropology from Harvard, and a BA from Amherst College.  

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