The Land of the (Not Quite) Free: Women and Religion Behind Bars by Amy Levin

The sun was setting on an early Friday evening in October 2008 as I pulled into the parking lot of the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women, a maximum level security prison housing nearly 700 inmates. Though the serene drive on Iowa’s main highway lasted a mere 40 minutes from Grinnell to Mitchellville, my co-teacher and I felt worlds away from our tiny utopian bubble of books and booze. As we gathered our teaching materials for a course we designed called “Feminist Playwriting,” we made sure not to bring in any contraband, one of the many precautions given during our orientation for students participating in Grinnell Liberal Arts in Prison, a program created in 2003 that allows students to design liberal arts courses in either a men or women’s Iowa prison. My experience interacting with an incredible roomful of women, some who would suffer behind bars for the rest of their lives, was needless to say a life changing experience. That semester ignited a fire in me for prison rights, which recently has manifested in a concern for the nexus of religion and prison. Continue reading “The Land of the (Not Quite) Free: Women and Religion Behind Bars by Amy Levin”

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