Arrested Justice

Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation

244 pages

May, 2012

ISBN: 9780814776223



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Beth E. Richie is Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, Professor of African American Studies and Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women.

All books by Beth E. Richie

Black women in marginalized communities are uniquely at risk of battering, rape, sexual harassment, stalking and incest. Through the compelling stories of Black women who have been most affected by racism, persistent poverty, class inequality, limited access to support resources or institutions, Beth E. Richie shows that the threat of violence to Black women has never been more serious, demonstrating how conservative legal, social, political and economic policies have impacted activism in the U.S.-based movement to end violence against women. Richie argues that Black women face particular peril because of the ways that race and culture have not figured centrally enough in the analysis of the causes and consequences of gender violence. As a result, the extent of physical, sexual and other forms of violence in the lives of Black women, the various forms it takes, and the contexts within which it occurs are minimized—at best—and frequently ignored. Arrested Justice brings issues of sexuality, class, age, and criminalization into focus right alongside of questions of public policy and gender violence, resulting in a compelling critique, a passionate re-framing of stories, and a call to action for change.  


  • “No one writes with passion like Beth Richie to convey the degree of danger the most marginalized women in our country are in. If there is one book you read to understand better why poor Black women are in continual danger—and several suggested ways of thinking about changing these conditions, then this is the book to read.”

    —Natalie J. Sokoloff, editor of The Criminal Justice System and Women

  • “Richie expertly and chillingly documents the convergence of individual and structural racism, economic exploitation, and political disenfranchisement in the devastating gendered violence against the most disadvantaged Black women and girls. Arrested Justice represents the intersections of oppression at their most extreme. The book is frightening, enraging, and should be read by everyone.”

    —Joanne Belknap, author of The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice

  • “A powerful and insightful call to action. Richie offers us a richly complex yet deeply usable analysis, rooted in a passionate commitment to producing knowledge that can change us and transform the world. Richie challenges us to ask ourselves what it would mean if we were to put the lives of the most stigmatized and the most violated at the center of our social justice work. The stories of injustice, survival and courage in these pages will stay with the reader long after turning the last page.” 

    —Julia C. Oparah, editor of Global Lockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex

  • "Beth E. Richie...uses her expertise to reveal the hidden experience of black women living in marginalized communities. With over 25 years of work as a black feminist scholar and anti-violence activist, Richie tackles the extremely complicated interplay of race, gender and class that is causing violence against black women."

  • "Her new book, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation, is a critical examination and re-examination of several of the issues Richie has been writing about and working on for many years: prisons, the criminal legal/justice system, and the particular vulnerabilities of women and African-American women in particular as they operate at the intersection of what Richie and many other scholars point to as a profoundly racist and misogynistic system."

    —Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

  • "Required reading for anyone interested in violence against women, black feminist theory, mass incarceration, or the welfare state. Essential for all levels/libraries."


  • "I hope all activists and scholars—women of color and white women, young and old—read this book and from it, learn how stacked the system is against women of color, especially poor women."

    Women's Review of Books

  • "This book provokes outrage and affords insight."

    American Studies

  • "By narrowing the scope of gender, violence, and crime more specifically to the U.S. case, she assesses both national and localized stories that reveal the fragility of black female lives in a nation driven by securing and maintaining prison profits...Even more profound, however, is the engagement Richie enforces with uncomfortable and long-avoided topics, including stalking, neighborhood assaults, incest, intimate partner abuse, rape, and even pervasive sexual harassment committed by the police in poor communities."

    WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly

  • “As a testament to the crumbling status of Black women in America, Richie’s book is a natural read for academic scholars in a variety of disciplines including Black studies, women’s studies, sociology, and criminology.  Furthermore, this book is useful for informing future policy and enlightening policy makers as to the weight and consequences of their actions."

    Journal of African American Studies