THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STUDIES AT SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY
THE ANN LUCAS LECTURE SERIES IN LAW & JUSTICE
Megan Comfort, “Doint Time Together: Love and Family in the Shadow of the Prison” (University of Chicago Press, 2008)
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Umunhum Room (Student Union, 3rd floor)
Nancy E. Stoller, University of California, Santa Cruz
Mary Louise Frampton, University of California, Berkeley
Tamara Spira, University of California, Davis
ABOUT THE BOOK:
By quadrupling the number of people behind bars in two decades, the United States has become the world leader in incarceration. Much has been written on the men who make up the vast majority of the nation’s two million inmates. But what of the women they leave behind? Doing Time Together vividly details the ways that prisons shape and infiltrate the lives of women with husbands, fiancés, and boyfriends on the inside. Megan Comfort spent years getting to know women visiting men at San Quentin State Prison, observing how their romantic relationships drew them into contact with the penitentiary. Tangling with the prison’s intrusive scrutiny and rigid rules turns these women into “quasi-inmates,” eroding the boundary between home and prison and altering their sense of intimacy, love, and justice. Yet Comfort also finds that with social welfare weakened, prisons are the most powerful public institutions available to women struggling to overcome untreated social ills and sustain relationships with marginalized men. As a result, they express great ambivalence about the prison and the control it exerts over their daily lives. An illuminating analysis of women caught in the shadow of America’s massive prison system, Comfort’s book will be essential for anyone concerned with the consequences of our punitive culture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Megan Comfort is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at UCSF and a visiting fellow at the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests include HIV prevention, HIV risk behaviors, incarceration, women, race, poverty, and health disparities.