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Incarceration, Marriage, Crime, Jail, Missouri, USA
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Chrissie Moore, 18, and her fiancé Kevin Green, 19, marry while Kevin is serving a five year sentence for drugs and burglary at Boonville Correctional Center in Boonville, Missouri.
Tory Read

1991 — student award of excellence

I propose to document the problems and issues facing the wives and girlfriends of prison inmates, to examine how these women meet the challenges in their live, and to visually investigate community responses to the needs of prisoners’ families. The United States prison population continues to rise.  Many of the men incarcerated in the system have girlfriends or wives and children who are profoundly affected by the breadwinner’s imprisonment. These women suffer spiritual, emotional, and economic violence. They are left to assume the role of the head of the household and primary wage earner, deal with their community’s perception of them as “prisoner’s wife,” and handle the frequently devastating impact of the man’s incarceration on the children. Research shows that maintenance of strong family ties during imprisonment results in a reduced likelihood of recidivism. Since women on the outside are largely responsible for the maintenance of those ties, it is in society’s best interests to examine the lives of prisoners’ families and incorporate these families into the overall rehabilitative process for the prisoner. In this way, the violence done to these women can be alleviated, and the convicts’ potential to do violence again can be reduced.

I have begun the project by focusing on the experience of one young woman in mid-Missouri. Ten images from my work with her are in my portfolio submission. Her husband is incarcerated in the Boonville Correctional Center, a medium security prison for first offenders located 30 miles west of Columbia. I will also explore the experience of a number of other women on the outside, as well as take look at ways that local communities and government agencies are responding to these women’s problems. When the project is completed, I will disseminate it via newspaper (to educate the general public). I will also present and exhibit the work at the National Family and Corrections Network Annual Conference to be held in Kansas. The Network is a non-profit organization that provides information and support to inmate family groups and social service organizations that deal with these families. I also intend to show the work to the Department of Corrections decision makers in an effort to get them to consider the prisoner’s family as a rehabilitation resource.

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Chrissie Moore, 18, and her fiancé Kevin Green, 19, participate in a required pre-nuptial counseling session with Rev. Carroll Schoenhals in a visiting room at Boonville Correctional Center in Boonville, Missouri. Kevin is serving a five year sentence for drugs and burglary. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Rev Schoenals married Kevin and Chrissie in the prison chapel. Only parents were allowed to attend the ceremony. Only 3% if inmates are married at the Correctional Center, so the ceremony gave Kevin status among inmates. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
In the visiting room after the ceremony, Chrissie looks to Kevin for a positive response as he views the marriage license. Kevin said, "Now you are mine." Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
A kiss by the change machine in the prison visiting room is the extent of Chrissie and Kevin's honeymoon. There are no conjugal visits in the State of Missouri. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Chrissie lives with Kevin's parents, Linda and Carl Green. They provide a solid support network and a comfortable home for her and her 18-month-old daughter Cassidy. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Kevin's mother Linda watches as Chrissie finishes a phone call with Kevin. Linda worries about Chrissie's and Kevin's future and she coaches Chrissie on how to handle Kevin's frequently unreasonable demands and manipulativeness. For example, Kevin demands that Chrissie spend her AFDC money on clothes for him, whereas Linda urges Chrissie to get something for herself or the baby. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Chrissie works for Linda and Linda's sister at the Greens' small restaurant near the house. While the women are busy getting ready to open, Chrissie mopes after another telephone argument with Kevin about her social interactions outside the prison. Because the Greens take care of her, Chrissie can get away with being passive. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Chrissie prepares for a post-wedding prison visit. She treats each visit as if it were a date. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Chrissie and Cassidy  approach the prison for their first post-wedding visit. Because she and Kevin are now related by marriage, the baby can come on the visit. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation
Chrissie investigates Kevin's black eye. He gets in a lot of fights because he has a bad temper. 1991. Tory Read/Alexia Foundation