Book Report: Women in Crime

Book Report: Women in Crime

Couldn’t keep it to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters is an educative and interesting book written by Wally lamb.  The book is an autobiography/testimony of women in a prison who were raised up in harsh backgrounds where they were abused sexually and mentally. I have chosen three main criminology topics to relate them to three individual females as told through their story. I will relate Brenda Medina to intimate partner violence, Nancy Whitley to white collar crime and Tabatha Rowley to life course. The three women faced similar challenges in their growing up that negatively contributed to their personality and the way they handled life thereafter. In this essay, I am going to discuss each woman separately and see how their childhood led to the crimes that they committed later. In addition, I shall look at the common things that they all underwent before their imprisonment.The three women had siblings.  Brenda Medina was raised by both parents. In her story she describes her family and mentions that she had nine siblings. She often played monopoly with her sisters too.  She goes ahead to talk of her mother’s greatest secret. Tabatha in her narration mentions her brothers who had a babysitter, their male neighbor “uncle Wesley.  Nancy Whitley also mentions her sister Janet in her narration (Lamb, 2003)

All the three women were educated and they once had descent jobs. Brenda Medina learnt while she was in prison. She later became a writer and a journalist. She also taught others how to read and write. Nancy Whitley was educated too. She dropped while undertaking her bachelor’s degree. Tabatha also dropped out of middle school but managed to join college.

The three women were normalized to their actions in their childhood years. Brenda was physically harassed by her mother. She became used to intimate partner violence from her childhood. Tabatha was introduced to drugs by her brother Pete at a young age which contributed to her criminality. Nancy Whitley was raised by a strict mother in a poor environment which contributed to her stealing culture.

Brenda Medina to Intimate Partner Violence

Brenda was physically harassed by her mother when she was a young girl despite being fond of her mother since they were close. However, one day while relaxing together outside their house, her mother chocked Brenda without knowing it. Her father confessed that his wife was under the influence of evil spirits that possessed her. “Daddy stood behind her, struggling to pry her fingers from my neck. What dad believed that a dark force sometimes took possession of his wife, the mother of her children?” (Lamb, 2003)

Brenda was occasionally mistreated by her boyfriend. He physically and sexually abused her. He expected her to please her in all ways and whenever she was reluctant, he would mercilessly beat her up.” He motioned me closer. He took my face in his hand and squeezed. With his other hand, he gripped the waistband of my skirt and yanked. With a shove, he sent me thudding back against the wall. Later, he undressed and slipped into bed beside mine” (Lamb, 2003)

Brenda was a victim of the cycle of violence.  Though she was being abused by her friend and disliked how he mistreated her, she did not find courage to quit from the relationship. When harassed by the boyfriend, he would try to calm her down with sweet words and beg for forgiveness. Brenda would then forgive him and continue with the relationship. “I’m sorry Brenda; I get crazy because I love you so much. You’re so beautiful Brenda. So sexy. I can’t handle other guys “.” I forgave him immediately. I loved hearing how much many loved me. I loved that he wanted me all to himself” (Lamb, 2003). This way he would manipulate her and the cycle of violence would continue.

Nancy Whitley and White Collar Crimes

Nancy Whitley was occasionally involved in white collar crimes. White collar crimes are crimes committed by official business or government officials in the course of their duties (Lamb, 2003). They are usually complicated and sometimes go unnoticed. Stealing other people’s identities and using it for personal gain is a white collar crime that was occasionally committed by Nancy Whitley. She stole other people’s credit cards to sustain her family.  “With a stolen credit card, Nancy Whitley, and her husband embarked on an extended first class travel and shopping spree that took them to Jamaica, Disney world and the mall of America” (Lamb, 2003). The narrator goes ahead to say that her crime was an interstate crime that landed her to prison.

Nancy’s mother was too moody. Her family was not financially stable a situation which forced her mother to study and work at the same time. She would leave Nancy in her sister’s care and when evening came, she (Nancy) would sit alone. She would treat the children harshly by beating them up, screaming at them and was always sad whenever she was with her family. This situation forced the children to engage in awful behaviors. Nancy found rescue in men’s hands. (Lamb, 2003

She was obsessed with men.  Nancy Whitley surrounded herself with men. She became obsessed with them and did whatever it takes to have whoever she desired. She says that, “back to the airport I rode, again and again, leading a parade of horny boys and men. It became an obsession for me: to crook my fingers and get the cutest guys in screw to screw me at the airport” (Lamb, 2003).

Growing up in a poor background under a harsh mother had great impact to Nancy’s criminality. When she was young she was envious about other people lives and always wished that her father could afford such life. This envy became the driving force to white collar crime. She engaged in white collar crimes so that she could meet her wishes effortlessly. She became used to stealing to an extent of robbing other people of their work while she was working in accounting firm employer’s knowledge. Also she became obsessed with men became they gave her the comfort and the love that her parents could not offer to her when she was young. She engaged in sex many times with different people which led to unwanted pregnancy. Since she was not ready she aborted the child.

Tabatha and Life Course Theory

Tabatha was raised up in a harsh environment under her strict mother. Most of her family members were not morally upright. For example, her brother Choo was shot and killed.  Her brother Pete was a drug addict and a heavy smoker at the age of fourteen. Tabitha was envious of how her brother smoked and at a young age, she also started smoking too. Her brother Pete introduced her to drug trafficking. Since Pete was her older brother, he took the responsibility of protecting her from bad people. He also taught her life survival means the major ones being drug abuse, packing and trafficking. In addition, he also taught her how to rob people off money.Tabatha was sexually assaulted by Uncle Wesley.  When she was young, her neighbor boyfriend would babysit her and her younger sister in her mother’s absent. This gave Wesley an opportunity to sexually assault her.  She wonders,” did my brother know what Uncle Wesley was doing when he’d drape that big tank big tan blanket over his and pull me down onto the floor and under” (Lamb, 2003.)

At the age of thirteen, Tabatha would come back home leaving her little sister by herself. She wanted to explore the world in search of freedom and personal identity.  She became rebellious to her mother and would sneak out at 2 am leaving her eight year old sister all by herself. “In an effort to figure out who I am, I have spotted some wild cuts. By the age of thirteen the wildness was in me and my need to rebel against my mother’s harsh rule. (Lamb, 2003)

Tabatha childhood environment contributed greatly to her criminality (Lamb, 2003). Her, mother worked in a bar and was barely at home with her children. The children lacked parental love and guidance, which gave them freedom to engage in crime. She grew rebellious to her mother since she was harsh. Also her brother introduced her to crime at a tender age which greatly contributed her to criminality.

According to the life course theory, ones childhood contributes highly to one’s behavior (Mallicoat, 2014). Men are accustomed to crimes than females. Emaciating women increases their rate of engaging in crime. In most cases when a girl child is raised up in a challenging environment where they was no freedom or tormented emotionally, physically or mentally they are high possibility of engaging in crime in future (Mallicoat, 2014).

In conclusion, ones childhood has great impact to one’s lifestyle. Harsh childhood environment makes the child to be rebellious and engage in crime in search of freedom and identity. When a child lacks parental love, she looks for it from the world which in most cases ends up in crime.


Lamb, W. (2003). Couldn’t keep it to myself: testimonies of our imprisoned sisters. New York:    NY:  HarperCollins

Mallicoat, L., S.  (2014) L. M & Ireland, E., C. (2014) Women and Crime the Essentials. Sage Publications, Inc.

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