Reforming, Reclaiming or Reframing Womanhood: Reflections on Advocacy for Women in Custody

Brenda V. Smith, American University Washington College of Law


I was asked to present one of the keynote addresses for this important symposium, Behind Bars: The Impact of Incarceration on Women and Their Families, sponsored by the Women's Rights Law Reporter at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark. I am happy to write the introductory essay for this meaningful publication which arose from that symposium. This is a particularly hospitable and appropriate environment for this publication given Rutgers University's important place in feminist scholarship and discourse - both in its graduate and undergraduate programs and in its publication arm - Rutgers University Press. Historically,the Women's Rights Law Reporter has been a critical site for conversation and dialogue on significant and emerging issues in feminist scholarship. This essay addresses why it is imperative to reclaim the discourse about women in prison and discusses how the other papers that appear in this issue aid in that project.