Locked Down: A Woman's Life in Prison

Idella Serna, Author New Victoria Publishers $8.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-934678-40-7
This ``autobiography'' of lesbian prisoner Mary ``Lee'' Dortch (written in her voice but by her lover) touches all the bases in the tragically familiar story of a life of neglect and rejection leading to violence and mental illness. While the material facts presented are shocking, the reasoning behind their presentation leaves much to be desired. The only reason given for Dortch's first crime, holding an entire family hostage with a revolver, is that she wanted the attention of a woman with whom she was infatuated. Her tendency toward self-mutilation, though detailed in laundry-list fashion, is not explained with any more depth. Much is made of Dortch's masculine appearance and stubbly beard--she once shot and killed a man who came on to her in a gay bar, not realizing she was female until he rubbed her crotch. One of the more poignant moments occurs when she is released on parole after 23 years and amazed by touch-tone telephones, liters of soda and grocery-store price scanners. Unfortunately, her method of dealing with this newness is to grab a woman passerby and hold a knife to her throat; the only explanation given for this behavior is a desire to return to prison. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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