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Becoming Ms. Burton

From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

One woman's remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recovery - and recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement.

Susan Burton's world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van driving down their street. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted first to cocaine then to crack. As a resident of South Los Angeles, a black community under siege in the War on Drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for over 15 years; never was she offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility.

Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. Her organization, A New Way of Life, 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 returning to prison. Becoming Ms. Burton not only humanizes the deleterious impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of lives of meaning and dignity.

©2017 Susan Burton and Cari Lynn (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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State-Enabled Racism, and How to Survive It

It reads as though the US government and Californian state legislatures had devised a system that placed the black population in a nightmarish criminal justice pan-opticon. This is a story of a modern railway underground that transported hundreds of black women to freedom from a corrupted and corrupting criminal justice industrial complex and the social straightjacket of a deeply racist system.

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  • Jean
  • 18-06-17

Compelling

This is the story of Burton’s life. The co-author is journalist and writer Cari Lynn. The first part of the book is about Burton’s early years in which she suffered from emotional neglect and sexual abuse. After Burton’s five-year-old son was killed by an automobile, she became a drug addict. This began years of being in and out of prison.

The second half of the book reveals her path to recovery. She formed a nonprofit organization entitled “A New Way of Life Reentry Project”. This organization helps other women stay out of prison and re-enter society. Burton has won many awards for her work and the Los Angeles Times named her one of the Nation’s New Civil Rights Leaders. She advocated for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity.

The book is well written and easy to read. Along with her life story, Burton also examines a number of issues in a broader context such as: How the lack of employment and housing opportunities increase the odds of a person returning to prison. She writes about ways to change these societal issues. Burton also provides statistics to reveal a fuller perspective of the problems of the prison system. Ms. Burton’s book not only inspires but educates.

The book is ten and a half hours long. Janina Edwards does a good job narrating the book. Edwards is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Betty
  • 15-06-17

Great!

Extremely eye-opening book that describes the struggles that so many millions of Americans face, which we rarely hear about. Inspiring, with the message that each person can make a difference. And hardships and struggles can be turned into an asset!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathleen Keleher
  • 30-05-17

so full of information.

this book brought me to tears of sadness and joy. I knew I would love it and I did

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-11-19

The Necessary Reform of US Prisions

Thank you Ms. Burton for shining a light on the revolving door of the prison and criminal judicial systems, both designed to segregate the poorest of our population by locking them up and throwing away the key.

Ms. Burton was able to turn her situation around, and use it to become an instrument of much needed change. She was able to mobilize the communities most impacted & inspired others to assist in amazing ways.

Everyone should read or listen to “Becoming Ms Burton” this books lifts the veil of ignorance surrounding the unfair, harsh and unequal criminal justice system. And the sometimes unavoidable circumstances like addiction that can land in the system instead of treatment.

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  • GANC Line
  • 30-07-19

An inspiring story

I work with women in prison, and it is helpful to better understand the challenge they face when they are released.

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  • Keba
  • 03-07-19

A great read!

This is a phenomenal book. It was well written. I couldn't stop reading until the very end.

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  • Candi
  • 02-06-19

Must read!

very interesting story. the story teller did an amazing job....I felt the emotion of the story 🙂

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  • Alvina Smith
  • 18-05-19

Wow and compelling

Modern-day slavery, what is the difference between the past Africans that were enslaved, and the enslaved African descendants of the modern era of the prison institutions of today. Several dictionaries define Slave, {noun}, a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them. Slave (verb) work excessively hard. A dictionary definition describing the condition of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children brought from overseas against their will to have their final course of life sold, bought, and auctioned. Then to be forced into labor without pain considered. Until this day, this is carried out in the systemic prison institution that house more Blacks and Latinos.
The 13th Amendment states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” And there is the “ Black Codes”, according to history.com website webpage the Black Codes were restrictive laws designed to limit the freedom of African Americans and ensure cheap labor. The direct statement is
“Black codes were restrictive laws designed to limit the freedom of” African Americans and ensure their availability as a cheap labor force after slavery was abolished during the Civil War. Though the Union victory had given some 4 million slaves their freedom, the question of freed blacks’ status in the postwar South was still very much unresolved. Under black codes, many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested, fined and forced into unpaid labor. www.history.com


A system that Ms. Susan Burton was unknowingly folding into line. Ms. Susan Burton pilgrimage through the whole ordeal of living her life, yes, I used the word pilgrimage. Ms. Susan Burton was forced by life to set up a sacred place of healing and to love herself, freeing herself from the trauma that accosted her life since she was four-years-old. Neglect from her mother added to the injury. Ms. Burton young childhood trauma without her permission to participate in the life’s lesson plan taught her to escape reality. Rape at a young age continuously forcing her to disassociate herself from the physical, mental, and emotional pain. Enduring the events that laid out like to tragic saga. Ms. Burton faced with trauma again when her five-year-old son was killed by an unmarked police officer's car. No respect for her son's death, no respect for her as a mother and her family did the Los Angeles, California Police Department had. The police department did not even recognized and accept accountability for the assault that the officer enacted. later she decided to sue the department.

Spiraling downhill on the course of life, her emotions and her mentality turned on her restraining her from severing herself from the reality of the death of her son. The bloodline, love, and spiritual connection she felt for her son would not allow her to detach. Her pain was so unbearable she could not retreat to survival mode. To numb her mental and emotional torture, she went from cocaine to crack. Cheaper high and more accessible, but not a long sustaining high. Over 15 year of incarceration, Susan Burton never had the opportunity that one who had financial stability could afford; such as, excellent legal representation. Nor was she was offered social, mental, and emotional rehabilitation. And of course, being of a different social stratum folded into her saga.

Sexual abuse/rape, prostitution, drug dealing, drug using, multiple arrests, and lack of family emotional, mental and physical protection lead and prepared Ms. Susan Burton to be a warrior on a whole new level. She is called a modern-day Harriet Tubman/Moses. One who led her people out of bondage.

This book “Becoming Ms. Burton” is an excellent read tearing the reader from his or her comfortability of their ignorance. Delivering factual information that bombard recorded history. Each chapter presents itself with statistics data that plague the United States of America history. The mass incarceration, lack of social services for rehabilitation and modern-day slavery for people of color, especially Black Americans, black Caribbeans, and Spanish speaking people of melanin origin. As I read the book, I could hear Sam Cook singing to her
"A Change is Gonna Come." Susan Burton change did come, and she turned her life and circumstance around.

Ms. Susan Burton is a shero, not because she helped others, but because she helped and healed herself first. The first step she took to strengthen her determination for what she does today. Ms. Susan Burton took on a calling that she was prepared to assist other women facing a system that is set-up systemically to enslaved people of color. Remember the 13th Amendment. One might ask what about other people? I offer you to think about the psychology behind a mapped out agenda. It is said in every form of oppression and war, there will be casualties of the oppressor people, setting an illusion. I offer you the opportunity to think, and do not follow the masses that want to trick you in believing that one is treated fairly and equally when it comes to the judicial system. Awaken self to truth, know that it takes a great person that know the law and know how to fortify justice to bring about what the laws are created for and that is to protect all citizens of United States of America.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-11-18

An amazing story of persistence and resilience

The narration is excellent . I developed tremendous respect for Ms. Burton to improve herself and her commitment to helping others in similar circumstances . It is highly informative and is thought provoking. I think this book allows the reader to develop a better awareness of how our legal system and social policies prevent an individual to care for themselves and their families after listening to this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-06-18

Outstanding!

Incredible story of a remarkable woman who gives us all hope for a better world and reminds us that no matter your trauma, circumstances or mistakes, you can always rise again and then help others to rise!! Thank you, Ms. Burton!