Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett

Life on the Outside The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett Life on the Outside tells the story of Elaine Bartlett who spent sixteen years in Bedford Hills prison for selling cocaine a first offense under New York s Rockefeller drug laws The book opens on the

  • Title: Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
  • Author: Jennifer Gonnerman
  • ISBN: 9780312424572
  • Page: 378
  • Format: Paperback
  • Life on the Outside tells the story of Elaine Bartlett, who spent sixteen years in Bedford Hills prison for selling cocaine a first offense under New York s Rockefeller drug laws The book opens on the morning of January 26, 2000, when Bartlett is set free and returns to New York City At 42, she has virtually nothing no money, no job, no real home.All she does have isLife on the Outside tells the story of Elaine Bartlett, who spent sixteen years in Bedford Hills prison for selling cocaine a first offense under New York s Rockefeller drug laws The book opens on the morning of January 26, 2000, when Bartlett is set free and returns to New York City At 42, she has virtually nothing no money, no job, no real home.All she does have is a large and troubled family, including four children, who live in a decrepit housing project on the Lower East Side I left one prison to come home to another, Elaine says Over the next months, she clashes with her daughters, hunts for a job, visits her son and husband in prison, negotiates the rules of parole, and campaigns for the repeal of the laws that led to her long prison term.Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, says At a time when the prison industrial complex is destroying African American families and neighborhoods, Elaine Bartlett is than a survivor she is a heroine The future of our communities depends on women like her Life on the Outside is a 2004 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

    • Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett « Jennifer Gonnerman
      378 Jennifer Gonnerman
    • thumbnail Title: Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett « Jennifer Gonnerman
      Posted by:Jennifer Gonnerman
      Published :2019-06-04T12:13:57+00:00

    About “Jennifer Gonnerman

    • Jennifer Gonnerman

      Jennifer Gonnerman joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2015 She came to the magazine from New York magazine, where she was a contributing editor for seven years Previously, she was a staff writer at the Village Voice Her journalism has received numerous prizes, including a Livingston Award for Young Journalists Her first piece for The New Yorker, Before the Law, about a teen ager who spent three years in jail without a trial, was published in 2014, and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Award for feature writing The article also won the John Jay College Harry F Guggenheim Award for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Her first book, Life on the Outside The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

    484 thoughts on “Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett

    • This review and more can be found at A Reader's Diary!!With the holidays coming up, I want you guys to imagine something.Imagine you're running low on money and just want to make the holiday great, big meal, gifts for everyone. An opportunity arises for you to make a whole lot of cash, FAST. Just carry a little bit of cocaine and you'll make your family so happy when they see the money. Elaine Bartlett did just that and was sentenced 20-to-life for a drug bust she was barely a part of. Elaine an [...]


    • I'm so happy that I read this book. I think that it is a must, especially for people who work with offenders/ex-offenders after prison. This book has potential to generate a lot of understanding on the parts of people who were never in prison. I learned a lot from this book- about life after prison, about the drug laws that have been devastating our society in unspoken, unacknowledged ways. This is definitely applicable if you're into sociology, criminology or drug laws.


    • This book was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Elaine Bartlett was a 26 year old mother of 4 on welfare. A friend of hers -- who was an international drug smuggler, though she did not know this -- offered her $2500 if she would carry 4 oz of cocaine in a package to upstate NY on the train, where he had buyers. Elaine agreed to do this, and her boyfriend Nathan went along with her, just to protect her.They arrived in Albany, went to the motel to drop off the package, and dozed off on [...]


    • All I can say is, wow! In an age when society has begun to assume that the victim is always to blame here comes a raw, emotional journey that will make one take pause concerning the war on drugs and who really pays the ultimate price.What does society owe to another individual? Do they owe anything at all? How has the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York State affected millions? How many realize that the real victims are the children and family left behind that tend to spiral in a never ending sea [...]


    • Some of the laws that snare the main character in this book have been dismantled since it was published. But so much more remains -- prisons, poverty, drugs, disinvestment, a million components that work together to maintain a semi-permanent underclass -- and I found it stark and moving, even 13 years after first publish. Also a great lesson in how to do a nonfiction story.


    • This book is a terrific account of the impact of the Rockefeller drug laws on the criminal justice system, neighborhoods, and individuals in New York state. I found the section of the book that portrayed the challenges that Elaine Bartlett had re-integrating into her family and community particularly powerful.


    • Great readIt held me attention from page 1. A lot of people make incorrect and/or uninformed judgment about incarcerated individuals and this book illustrates that.


    • Impact of Rockefeller drug laws through the eyes of a prisoner slapped with a sentence of 20 years for a first time marijuana offense, setup by a police informant who was a major dealer criminal himself. Reveals the strange, skewed criminal justice system, the effects on one person, and the way in which system punishes family and children, over and over again. Gonnerman implicitly raises the question that sensible people must be asking themselves: how is it that the US can feel ok about looking [...]


    • In the past two months I've read Roots and Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the second time in my life and both of these books are powerful and should certainly leave any human being with a heart to feel compassion for what they suffered. What happened then was wrong but what is happening today is equally tragic but the blame is not on someone else but rather the person themselves.Having grown up in NYC during the time when this book begins, having lived in similar circumstances and having come from a si [...]


    • Unlike most prison stories which chronicle the lives of men caught in the system, Life on the Outside, sketches the life of Elaine Bartlett, a mother of four and victim of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Jennifer Gonnerman, a Village Voice staff writer, draws an amazing picture of the hardships and suffering women face when they try to weave their way back into society after a long prison term without any training or support. Unmatched by any other book, Life on the Outside will give readers a glimps [...]


    • This book was well written, and painstakingly researched. I really feel for these people who are sent to prison under "get tough on drug crime" legislation, that allows cops to raise their arrest stats, prosecutors to become judges, and judges to become senators, and lets senators get re-elected -- all the while ensuring the cycle of crime and poverty continues, and everyone continues to make their money off the misery of the drug trade. As one wise man said, "carry a gun or briefcase, it's all [...]


    • All I can say is, wow! In an age when society has begun to assume that the victim is always to blame here comes a raw, emotional journey that will make one take pause concerning the war on drugs and who really pays the ultimate price.What does society owe to another individual? Do they owe anything at all? How has the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York State affected millions? How many realize that the real victims are the children and family left behind that tend to spiral in a never ending sea [...]


    • While this book starts out a little too journalist-formula for my taste, and the narrator inside character's heads makes me uncomfortable, I was still hooked by the first 20 pages. This is the first book I've read in a while that made me put the rest of my life on hold so I could get to the next chapter. Many of the chapters end suspensefully, although suspense is not quite the reason I was captivated (most readers will have a pretty good idea of the story arc before beginning the book). Instead [...]


    • This was another book I read for a class. I probably would give it 3.5 stars. It was a very enlightening book about what it is like to be set up in a drug deal and how the Rockefeller drug laws in New York have ruined the lives of Elaine Bartlett and her family. Mandatory sentencing for drug offenses have multiplied the prison population to ridiculous degrees, and also caused millions to be spent on building new prisons. Elaine Bartlett was imprisoned for 20 years to life for a first offense dru [...]


    • A book I couldn't put down. A book that touched my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and swarms of thoughts about how our justice system is failing; leaving me wondering if it could ever change or how we could make it change. A book about cycles of life, where for some people no matter how hard you try to get ahead, it doesn't come easy or at all. Every criminology student should read this. This book demonstrates theories so well you will start to understand how the theories may have been formula [...]


    • Well researched and fine writing. Provides a very in-depth look at one woman's experience after being tried and convicted under the Rockefeller drug laws and the long-term effects of incarceration upon family structures. While I recognize the author's need to focus on the aspect of Elaine's experience as a learning lesson, I do feel the book falls short when it comes to discussing larger policy implications and providing a sociological look at the myriad of factors keeping this family, and many [...]


    • A good book about why lengthy drug sentencing laws failed & why poverty, reliance on & fraud of social welfare programs and limited education repeats itself in each generation. I'm giving it 3 stars bc of the minimization of Elaine Bartlett's misdeeds. The book presents her as making one bad decision that resulted in an unfairly long sentence. But she was committing crimes before & after she went to prison (smoking marijuana 3x a day from which we can assume she purchased drugs, runn [...]


    • This was required reading for a "Criminology" class, and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it -- Perhaps because I am strangely fascinated by both the human condition and our (often flawed) criminal justice system. Although I would have loved reading more about Elaine's life while still actually in prison, I love that this book describes her struggles once she was released. It is very revealing, and allows us to reflect on a 16+ year punishment for a first-time (set-up) drug offense. The effect [...]


    • I really enjoyed this book. It showed me a different side to the prison system that people never really think about. I had never considered how extensive peoples lives are effected by serving prison time. Even once they get out they are still influenced becasue of it. This book illuminated that fact.


    • Had to read it for my criminology classdidn't get all the way through it, but it was a lot of technical details. Not a very much story like book, more for information on how life is for people who are/get involved with crime, and how justice/injustice takes place in our criminal justice system. Informative, yet a little dragging.


    • This is a massive amount of work. Essential reading for why sending small time drug criminals to prision is a really bad idea. Also interesting to me as a sort of anthropoligical sense of a different culture and class in america. Helps me understand more where people of different social strata might be coming from.


    • Interesting look into the effects of the Rockefeller drug laws and the inner workings of the criminal justice system. Elaine Bartlett's story shows how once incarcerated individuals with criminal histories struggle to be functioning members of society--because of their own dysfunctional situations and also the stigmas and difficulties both society and the CJS place on them.


    • Reads like a novel I appreciated the author's insights into what it's like to leave prison and try to pick up where you left off, especially how children of the newly released react. Elaine Bartlett is a strong woman.


    • You can tell it's written by a reporter -- I mean that in a good and bad way -- but the story is very moving. We all know a productive life is almost impossible for those who have done time in prison and this book shows it clearly.


    • This book is well researched and written by Jennifer Gonnerman, one of the best writer from The Village Voice. It explores the prison and re-entry experience of Elaine Bartlett and shows the ineffectiveness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.


    • I thought this book was really interesting. I learned a lot about the extreme difficulties of post-prison life. The author made this very easy to read and it was a quick read. I was amazed that none of the names were disguised as well. I wonder how Elaine is doing now, six years later.


    • One woman's struggle in post-prison life. This book examines the questionable ideologies behind the New York drug laws. Jennifer Gonnerman highlights racial and economic discrimination saturating American politics. A poignant and disturbing view of our government.


    • This book is great! It outlines Elaine Barlett's journey in prison, and after prison. She realizes that life outside of prison is not as great as she thought it would be and she struggles a lot. Her children don't recognize her as a mother, and she has trouble finding a job.


    • Found this interesting book while wandering the biography section at the library. An interesting story as to how one wrong decision can affect your entire life. Elaine Bartlett, the subject of the biography, had a tough row to hoe, but she is making it and I had to cheer for her.


    • I read this back in 2008 and I still think about Elaine. One of the first books I read that introduced me to the very corrupt and skewed prison system we have in America.


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