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Lockdown on Life: Stories from Women Behind Bars


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Stop the murder of women prisoners sign. Source:

Stop the murder of women prisoners sign. Source:

On this edition, we take you to two U.S. prisons  behind the bars and into the lives of incarcerated women. We’ll share the personal stories of transgendered-women forced to live among hundreds of men in a California prison. You’ll also hear from imprisoned mothers and incarcerated expectant mothers who are being helped by a group of doulas.


Dr. Lori Kohler, prison doctor; Alex Lee, Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project; Juana, Donna, Shante, Diamond, Kim, five transgender Women at California Medical Facility whose names have been changed; Taska Harand, mom at Washington Correctional Center for Women; Christy Hall, the Birth Attendants, co-founder; Genesis, mom at Washington Correctional Center for Women; Katrina Eva, Residential Parenting Program
correctional unit supervisor; Jade Souza, works with The Birth Attendants; Julie Montie, works with The Birth Attendants; Teresa Corel, mom at Washington Correctional Center for Women;

Senior Producer/Host: Tena Rubio
Contributing Freelance Producers: Sandra Lupien and Sarah Olson

For more information:

Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project – Oakland, CA

Trans/Gender Variant in Prison Committee – San Francisco

The Birth Attendants – Olympia, WA

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children – San Francisco, CA

California Coalition for Women Prisoners – San Francisco, CA

Justice Now – Oakland, CA

Free Battered Women – San Francisco, CA

Project Avary – San Rafael, CA

The Osbourne Association – Long Island City, NY

Review of this program on PRX (Public Radio Exchange):

Posted: 2-5-2007
Reviewer: John Hingsbergen, Program Director, WMUB Public Radio

This is a well-produced yet difficult to listen to glimpse behind the walls of prison life. This show features the stories and voices of women, mothers, mothers-to-be and transgendered women. While all of the stories are disturbing, the most moving are the stories of women separated from their newborn children. Heartbreakingly sad.

While many of us will have a hard time identifying the transgendered women, we need to know about them and their circumstances despite much of our society’s efforts to ignore them.

The writing, narration and editing are well done. Most of the sound is well recorded with the exception of the poor quality from the prison tape recorder but there was nothing the producers could do about that.

I would like to have heard more “sound” than the voices alone but I assume that this was a result of prison limitations on recording. The sound of prison doors being opened and closed, prisoners in the dining area or in recreation would certainly be useful and help move the stories along if available.

This is the type of work that only non-commercial radio chooses to put on the air in a non-sensational yet moving way.

Thanks to the National Radio Project for doing this kind of work. These are stories that need to be heard.

Rating: 4/5
Adjectives: Disturbing, Engaging, Informational

Author: Radio Project

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