Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women ⋆ Green Woman Store

Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women


Winner of the 2018 National Council on Crime & Delinquency’s Media for a Just Society Awards


Winner of the 2017 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice


“Valuable . . . [like Michelle] Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.”
Los Angeles Review of Books


“Susan Burton is a national treasure . . . her life story is testimony to the human capacity for resilience and recovery . . . [Becoming Ms. Burton is] a stunning memoir.”
–Nicholas Kristof, in The New York Times


Winner of the prestigious NAACP Image Award, a uniquely American story of trauma, incarceration, and “the breathtaking resilience of the human spirit” (Michelle Alexander)

Widely hailed as a stunning memoir, Becoming Ms. Burton is the remarkable life story of the renowned activist Susan Burton.

In this “stirring and moving tour-de-force” (John Legend), Susan Burton movingly recounts her own journey through the criminal justice system and her transformation into a life of advocacy. After a childhood of immense pain, poverty, and abuse in Los Angeles, the tragic loss of her son led her into addiction, which in turn led to arrests and incarceration. During the War on Drugs, Burton was arrested and would cycle in and out of prison for more than fifteen years. When, by chance, she finally received treatment, her political awakening began and she became a powerful advocate for “a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity” (Booklist, starred review). Her award-winning organization, A New Way of Life, has transformed the lives of more than one thousand formerly incarcerated women and is an international model for a less punitive and more effective approach to rehabilitation and reentry.

Winner of an NAACP Image Award and named a “Best Book of 2017” by the Chicago Public Library, here is an unforgettable book about “the breathtaking resilience of the human spirit” (Michelle Alexander).


Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women

One woman remarkable journey from tragedy — to prison — to recovery — and being recognized as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement Susan life story is one our nation desperately needs to hear and understand. This is a story about personal transformation and collective power. It is about one woman journey to freedom, but it will help free us all. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

Susan Burton world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van on their street in the impoverished black community of South Los Angeles, California. She was consumed by grief and had no access to professional help. Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted to cocaine and then crack. Her community was under siege by the War on Drugs, and it was only a matter of time until Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for fifteen years, never being offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility. Once free of drug addiction, Susan dedicated her life to women like herself who face similar struggles. She began by greeting women as they took their first steps of freedom as they left prison, welcoming them into her home, providing a space of safety and community. Susan Burton started an organization, A New Way of Life, which now operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children, setting them on the track to education and employment rather than returns to prison

Susan Burton is the Founder and Executive Director of A New Way of Life , a nonprofit that provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. She is known nationally as an advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time. Susan is a Violence Prevention Fellow with the California Wellness Foundation, and has received the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Law. In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, she was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of eighteen New Civil Rights Leaders in the nation. She lives in Los Angeles.

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