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Halfway House for Women

Oppression and Resistance

Gail A. Caputo

Publication Year: 2014

Although halfway houses have been touted for years as affirmative rehabilitation locations that ready women for life in the outside world, in this remarkable case study Gail Caputo shows how these places reinforce patterns of control and abuse that reaffirm the dependency and victimization of the inmates. Based on observations made while living and working alongside women at a halfway house within the prison system in a city in the Northeast, Caputo’s analysis is anchored in the words and experiences of over a dozen women. Organized according to the progression of “levels” residents traverse during their time in the house, and the rules and behaviors associated with each level, Caputo offers a riveting look at what passes for “rehabilitation” and “reintegration” in such places, and delineates the many ways these women retain agency by resisting regulations designed to keep them in their place.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. xi-xx

I did not set out to write about how a halfway house reproduces patriarchal oppression in women’s transition from incarceration to community and how women manage this domination. My research aim was quite different. I wanted to explore how women are able to exploit a criminal labor market despite sexism...

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p. xi

wish to thank those who assisted me in this research, including staff at the reentry center for providing me access to the women inside. I recognize the important work of scholars Walter DeKeseredy and Molly Dragiewicz, who reviewed an earlier version of this manuscript and gave me valuable insight, as well...

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pp. 1-24

The number of women incarcerated in prisons and jails has grown dramatically in the last several decades.1 Most women are incarcerated for drug-related crimes, and limited correctional resources for treatment mean that many women return as they were to their communities and the troubles that contributed to...

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1. Residents

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pp. 25-44

More than twenty women appear in this book, with a smaller number of them taking center stage. Ranging in age from their early twenties to mid-sixties, the women’s racial identities are about evenly split Caucasian and African American or Hispanic. As is the case with many women who come into contact with...

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2. Blackout

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pp. 45-86

As she is led handcuffed past the iron gates, across the narrow cement walk, up the steep steps under the rooftop cross of this former Catholic convent, every woman who enters the reentry center called Alpha Omega House begins a new journey. And while she might be well accustomed to different types of confinement...

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3. Zero

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pp. 87-150

Today is moving day for Victoria. She completed the mandatory thirty days of Blackout and just this morning passed her written Blackout quiz. She was able to answer the chain-of- command questions, including the one that asked her to identify “who I can go to and can’t go to” for information, complaints...

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4. C Level

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pp. 151-184

With Blackout past and a month served on Zero, women are eager to advance to C Level. Normally three months in duration, C Level rewards women with fewer restrictions and increasing freedoms. Now socialized into the customs and culture of the house and its formal sisterhood, Adeline, Billie, Freya, Clair...

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5. B and A Levels

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pp. 185-210

With Blackout, Zero, and C Level past and upward of six months at Alpha Omega House spent, women who make it to B Level are in the home stretch. Still taking part in the routine established at Zero and IOP started at C Level, residents at “B,” as the women call it, are “senior girls.” “Senior girls” may be called upon...

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pp. 211-228

Every woman who participated in this research departed Alpha Omega House. Most graduated the program, meaning they had “successfully” completed it. Others received what the women call a “dishonorable discharge”— they were transferred out of the program to another community-based intervention or returned...


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pp. 229-234


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pp. 235-260


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pp. 261-268

E-ISBN-13: 9781555538439
E-ISBN-10: 1555538436
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555538415

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law
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OCLC Number: 885292664
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Halfway House for Women

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Subject Headings

  • Female offenders -- Rehabilitation -- United States.
  • Halfway houses -- United States.
  • Prisoners -- Deinstitutionalization -- United States.
  • Corrections -- United States.
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