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Publisher's 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.

What listeners say about Becoming Ms. Burton

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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.

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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!

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so full of information.

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

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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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Amazing Story of Resilience and Power to Change Self and The System

I recommend this book to politicians, anyone struggling with substance use disorder, employers, people serving time in jail or prison, activists etc. It’s a powerful story of a woman against all odds, finding a way to make a difference in the insanity of how racism informs our criminal justice system.

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Inspiring

This book relates a remarkable and inspiring story. It was beautifully written, and hard to put down.

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A must read for the young, the marginalized and needing hope.

Slow in the beginning. But boy am I glad I continued. My goodness this book is beautifully written and an education more than any other book I have read that CLEARLY explains why the poor, Black, and other people of color are set up to fair. EVEN when the powers that be tell you we are here to help you. There help is riddled with nearly impossible obtention. Ms. Burton thank you.

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COMPELLING and REVITING

The is a story told to inspire, and has done just that. HOPE RESTORED!!!!!

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Terrific Read

This was a story of a black woman who, with great determination and love, was able to work against unjust white imposed laws.
It would be a wonderful required reading for freshman or sophomores in high school. Chapter by chapter it would provide great mind expanding situations for discussions.

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An inspiring story of personal redemption

I am a retired attorney who helps people expunge and seal their criminal records in northern Illinois. I started this book out of curiosity about what similar trends are in California. This is more than that. It's a clearheaded description and indictment of our criminal justice system for Black people, especially of the devastation caused by the Nixon-era War on Drugs. Susan Burton weaves her story with those of others, and demonstrates by her own life how sadly the system fails women. We can see in this amazing book how poverty leads girls into sexual predation, failed education, drugs and alcoholism, and prison.

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  • Philip
  • 04-22-18

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-12-22

Parenting?

An excellent book about an amazing woman. However she never once raises the issue of preventing people from behaviour that results in incarceration. Parenting skills and contraception. Ms. Burton is a true hero.