News from the Web

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a prominent young female defender of human rights, received a heavy sentence of six years in prison on charges including the vague crime of "waging war against God." She joins a steadily increasing number of other women's rights activists who are in prison for no greater crime than their attempt to fight for the rights of the women.

A Malawian rights group wants to free 80 convicted "witches" from prison. Most of the prisoners are women who were convicted for teaching witchcraft to children. The "witches" are serving sentences of up to six years.

The Zimbabwe Prison Service has always faced a dilemma over what to do about women prisoners with very young children. Few of these women have anyone they can trust to leave the children with while they serve their sentences and the national social services are already so overburdened that they cannot take on these children.


The inmates at the female penitentiary of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison in Mexico City include women serving sentences for murder, drug dealing, and kidnapping. But there are also about 50 children, living inside the prison with their incarcerated mothers. Photographer Caroline Bennett stepped inside the prison walls to see what life was like within Santa Martha's gates.

With "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo," Bradley Beesley has found a great subject: the Oklahoma State Penitentiary's annual prison rodeo, which since 2006 has included female inmates competing alongside men. Beesley's documentary is absorbing, and the rodeo provides the kind of action that the camera loves. But this is less a rah-rah sports film than a compassionate look at difficult lives in a difficult place.

Deborah Jiang Stein spent the first year of her life in prison, born to a mother who was a long-time heroin addict, sentenced to prison when she was pregnant. Deborah, now a motivational speaker for women in prison, has a fascinating story. While she was adopted by two English professors, her early years of turmoil led to a life of crime, violence, and drugs. Only later, in her late twenties, did she transform her life. She stands as proof that anyone can rewrite their story and forge a new path. 

NORMAN— A local alliance wants to raise awareness about the state’s high incarceration rate of women. Stephanie Heck, program coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Center for Social Justice at the University of Oklahoma, said Oklahoma jails more women than any other state.

GATESVILLE, Texas - The sound of praise and worship can be heard behind the gates of the Dr. Layne Murray unit at the Gatesville Maximum Security prison. For the women behind bars at the prison, worshipping God is a whole new way of life.