The aperture through which we view prisons is narrow, distorted, and often boarded up. Life on the inside is shown to us through fleeting glimpses: in mainstream media, crime novels, and TV shows. This impersonal representation — a ‘lopsided story’ — is not only a poor likeness of prison life; it is, in the case of women’s prisons and prisoners, an empty landscape. Drastically under- and mis-represented, their voices are drowned out by the focus on the much larger male prison estate.
In How Bleak is the Crow’s Nest, Rosalchen Whitecross anthologises the writing of 18 women prisoners at HMP Downview and HMP East Sutton Park in 2018; writing their own stories told in their own words. In doing so, this anthology writes into ‘the silence of the lived experiences’ of women prisoners, opening an important space for us to better understand prison life for women, and the treatment of women prisoners, in the UK’s criminal justice system.
Proceeds from this anthology will be donated to INQUEST.
All works in this anthology are the copyright of their respective authors
The women writers in this anthology use pseudonyms to protect their identities
Edited text © Rosalchen Whitecross, 2021