There's a Woman in Here!: The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of the First Female Psychologist to Work Behind the Walls of Jackson Prison, as Revealed in Her Journals by Jean Becker Walsh (Paperback / softback, 2013)
In the late 60's after raising a family, the author set a high goal for herself--- to become a psychologist in order to exert a positive influence on the lives of others. Little did she imagine then that she would one day find herself working with felons in what was at that time the world's largest walled prison! The Department of Corrections' decision in 1975 to experiment with women working in all-male institutions led to Jean's becoming the first, and for most of a year, the only female psychologist inside the walls of Jackson Prison. Jean's unique perspective on prison life as she saw it is sometimes graphic and horrifying, sometimes touching, or even humorous. Whether she writes of efforts to do therapy with sex offender groups, of inedible meals in the Officer's Dining Room, or harassment from male staff who resented her presence, the reports by this tough-minded but compassionate individual will hold the reader's attention. Anyone interested in criminal justice, psychology, or women's issues will find There's a Woman in Here! a fascinating insight into problems that remain relevant today.
Jean grew up in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Right after High School, she was hired as a commercial artist at Cornell, which was a great opportunity, as she had hoped to follow a career in art. However, as was expected in those days, she married and moved from place to place, following her husband's career. Each of their four children was born in a different state, before the final move to Michigan in 1960. Soon the children began leaving home to start lives of their own. Although Jean had adapted to the expected role of wife and mother, she began to feel that there had to be more that she could accomplish! Inspired by events of those turbulent times, especially by the new roles being played by women, Jean resolved to become a psychologist so she would have the skills to become a positive influence in the world. Little did she imagine when she announced her plans to her incredulous family, that seven years later, she would take on the challenge of becoming the first female psychologist in the world's largest walled prison at that time, performing her duties from an office right in Cell Block Seven! Jean began keeping a journal at that time, recording events those not a part of prison life could scarcely imagine. After three years, her divorce final, Jean started married life anew with a co-worker who had become Administrator of Psychology for the Department of Corrections, Dr. Bob Walsh, now retired. Jean and Bob have both been active in civil rights, enjoy traveling together, and actually did most of the construction of their home. Jean has returned to her early interest in art and recently displayed many of her paintings. She enjoys good relations with her ever-expanding family, and most recently, finished writing of the fascinating time she spent so long ago inside the walls of Jackson Prison!