Emma Mclean-Riggs

“locked together / in this small hated space”: Recognizing and Addressing Intimate Partner Violence Between Incarcerated Women

Intimate partner violence between incarcerated women has been largely invisible in legal scholarship and advocacy work. This Note attempts to assess the incidence and quality of intimate partner violence between incarcerated women from the incomplete and occasionally biased available data and then examines potential methods for reducing such violence. Considering several of the legal strategies that address intimate partner violence, this Note concludes that while facilitating women’s escape from their abusive partners and civil protection orders may be effective strategies for intervening in violence between incarcerated women, mandatory reporting structures and no-drop prosecution policies are ill-suited to the prison context.


1998: Get another new girlfriend who occasionally beats you up.

Be happy when she calls you her wife.

Go to the hole together.

Leave her for someone else who doesn’t beat you up.

Get out of the hole.

Get back with your wife.

Go to the hole again.

Get out of the hole again.

Graduate from a community college with honors.


2001: Get another girlfriend who is known for beating the hell out of her


Convince yourself that she’ll never beat you up.

End up being choked on your cell room floor when you’ve just

gotten out of the shower.

Worry about your grandma’s health.

Wonder what your grandma will think if you end up a naked, dead

lesbian in prison.

Hope that doesn’t happen.


—How to Survive in Prison, Yvette M. Lousill