Prisons in the Southern United States are a particularly unique kind of rural institution not only because of their geographic locations, social climates informed by the rural cultures of staff and prisoners, and, for many older Southern prisons, their roots in plantation agriculture. Despite these realities, rural criminology has yet to systematically synthesize and explore what existing research indicates about the everyday lives of over 30,000 women currently serving time in state prisons throughout the Southern United States. The present study fills this significant gap in the literature by uniting multidisciplinary literature to identify four prevailing themes evident in research regarding Southern women’s prisons: regional culture in historical context, relationships and social dynamics, victimization and wellbeing, and journeys through the system from sentencing to reentry. Our findings suggest that rural criminology has potential to play a major role in shaping prison research by emphasizing regional culture’s relevance to everyday prison life. Systematically analyzing this literature through a rural criminological lens in the scope of a single article provides important insights.
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