Incarcerated Minds

The Walls That Divide Us Enslave Us

Orange is NOT the New Black

*Nearly 8 in 10 female mentally ill inmates reported physical or sexual abuse. Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers, Published July, 1999. Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice.

*57.2 percent of females report abuse before admission to state prison versus 16.1 percent of males. 39.0 percent of female state prison inmates report that they were sexually abused before admission to state prison versus 5.8 percent of males. Prior Abuse Reported by Inmates and Probationers, Published in April, 1999. Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice.

*Nearly 6 in 10 women in state prisons had experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past. 69 percent reported that the assault occurred before age 18. Women Offenders, Published December 1999, Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice.

*Approximately 7 in 10 women under correctional sanction have minor children, more than 1,300.000 children. Women Offenders, Published December 1999, Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice.

Let's Get REAL.

Rhinocerous woman
who nobody wants
and everybody used.
They say you're crazy
cause you not crazy enough
to kneel when told to kneel.

Hey, big woman -
with scars on the head
and scars on the heart
that never seem to heal -
I saw your light
and it was shining.

You gave them love.
They gave you shit.
You gave them you.
they gave you hollywood.
They purr at you
cause you know how to roar
and back it up with realness.

Rhinocerous woman,
big momma in a little world.
You closed your eyes
and neon spun inside your head
cause it was dark outside.

You read your bible
but god never came.
Your daddy woulda loved you
but what would the neighbors say.

They hate you momma
cause you expose their madness.
And their cruelty.

They can see in your eyes
a thousand nightmares
that they have made come true.

Black woman. Baad woman.
Wear your bigness on your chest like a badge
cause you done earned it.

Strong woman. Amazon.
Wear your scars like jewelry
cause they were bought with blood.

They call you mad.
And almost had you
believing that shit.

They called you ugly.
And you hid yourself
behind yourself
and wallowed in their shame.

Rhinocerous woman -
this world is blind
and slight of mind
and cannot see
how beautiful you are.

I saw your light.
And it was shining

-Assata Shakur

How do we learn to be free?



For me to be free

I must know

That my hopes,

My dreams,

My fears


Both completely



Mundanely intertwined with yours.

Please tell me

You understand.

That my voice does not grate like

Nine inch nails down a chalkboard,

While I rot upon a dead tree,

A martyr for a broken system, whose hallmark is cruelty, inhumanity.

Or that it is imperceptible to most

Human ears—

Like a dog whistle in a sea of blissfully

Unaware owners,

some of whom are casually eating melting ice cream on a warm summer’s day.

I need your ears, your eyes, your heart.

I need you to know I’m here,

And even if your here is not mine,

I need you to know that my here is not your there,

My us is not your them.

I need to know you’ll be my captive audience,

If only for a moment,

So you can understand what I can’t do for myself,

but what we must do


Even if it makes you uncomfortable to see your pain

Reflected in my eyes.

-Brittany Rigdon