Becoming Ms. Burton (New Press)

Becoming Ms. Burton is 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 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 fifteen 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 returns 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 a life of meaning and dignity.

Praise for Becoming Ms. Burton 

"Susan Burton is an angel among us. Her journey is a story of courage, compassion, and conviction. At turns harrowing and inspiring, Becoming Ms. Burton provides a valuable new perspective on the consequences of mass incarceration." -- Howard Schultz, executive chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company 

"Susan Burton's life and work are a testament to the power of second chances and the impact one person can have on the lives of others. Her book is a stirring and moving tour-de-force--a beautiful inspiration for all of us to continue to fight for justice." -- John Legend, actor, singer, and songwriter 

"More than just a memoir, this account provides an intimate glimpse into the problems that plague the U.S. prison system." -- Library Journal 

"Burton has helped thousands of formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals, and now, by telling her story, she continues to advocate for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity." -- Booklist (starred) 

"The book documents Burton's tireless efforts to effect change---first helping individual women, released from prison with few resources, to make a new start, and then snowballing advocacy efforts at the state and national level to reshape how the United States treats those with criminal records." --Publishers Weekly 

"A dramatic, honest, moving narrative of how hard life can get and how one can still overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity to do good in the world." -- Kirkus Reviews 

"Susan Burton is someone who inspires while she educates. Her powerful and compelling memoir is an unforgettable journey and also an extraordinary light for all who are looking for answers on how we must recover, restore, and redeem those who have been incarcerated. This is a must-read." -- Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy 

" Becoming Ms. Burton eloquently shows why the voices of formerly incarcerated women must be at the center of efforts to reconstruct the criminal legal system. Too often this nation criminalizes the trauma of black women; Susan Burton exposes this terrible truth by sharing her astounding story of redemption. This is critical reading for champions of justice everywhere."-- Monique W. Morris, author of Pushout 

"For almost two decades Susan Burton has been a trailblazing advocate for ending mass incarceration, especially as it relates to poor women of color. Becoming Ms. Burton details her remarkable personal transformation as well as the larger structural changes this country must make in order to achieve racial and economic justice. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about these issues."-- Daryl V. Atkinson, civil and human rights advocate, lawyer, and member of the Leadership Council of the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement 

"Susan's life story is one our nation desperately needs to hear and understand. This is a story about personal transformation and collective power. It is about one woman's journey to freedom, and in the process helping to free us all."-- Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

Co-author of Becoming Ms. Burton, Cari Lynn is a journalist who’s written several books of nonfiction, including The Whistleblower, Leg the Spread, and the historic novel Madam. Cari has written for numerous publications, including O, the Oprah Magazine, Health, the Chicago Tribune, Deadline Hollywood and the Hollywood Reporter. She has taught and guest lectured around the country.  She received an M.A. in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. A longtime Chicagoan, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

For over 20 years, Saúl Sarabia has participated in social movements to transform society and has worked to end structural racism and discrimination by developing leaders, changing laws, and teaching. As the director of UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program, Saul trained students to fight injustice by partnering with organizations working for social change. Along with challenging racism in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and helping undocumented college students build a voice an a social movement, Saúl and his students worked with Susan Burton to create the UCLA Law-A New Way of Life Legal Re-enty Clinic to assist formerly incarcerated people fighting employment discrimination. Saúl holds both a B.A. and J.D. from UCLA.

The daughter of criminal-justice activist Susan Burton, Antoinette Carter’s life story features heavily in Becoming Ms. Burton.  A South Los Angeles native, Antoinette is a human resources executive at a Fortune 500 company.

Tiffany Johnson first heard about A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) on the grounds of Central California Women’s Facility while serving a 15-to-life sentence. On April 28, 2010, she walked through the doors of ANWOL to start her new life. Through ANWOL’s guidance and connections, she went on to claim a career and live on her own. In December of 2013, she joined ANWOL’s staff as a full-time community organizer for All of Us or None-Southern California. As of January 2015, Tiffany is now ANWOL’s Associate Director. As a subject matter expert, Tiffany has completed numerous presentations throughout the country and offers a unique perspective on the intricacies of overcoming re-entry barriers after years of incarceration. 

Event date: 
Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 4:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women Cover Image
By Susan Burton, Cari Lynn, Michelle Alexander (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781620972120
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - May 9th, 2017