“I started reading this book and couldn’t stop…[Love Lockdown is] a clear-eyed, compassionate look at prison love stories, and I found every relationship riveting.”—Lisa Taddeo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Three Women
An evocative and gripping investigative look into romantic relationships between incarcerated people and their spouses on the outside from the author of the “mesmerizing” (Elle) Playing Dead.
What is it like to fall in love with someone in prison?
Over the course of five years, Elizabeth Greenwood followed the ups and downs of five couples who met during incarceration. In Love Lockdown, she pulls back the curtain on the lives of the husbands and wives supporting some of the 2.3 million people in prisons around the United States. In the vein of Modern Love, this book shines a light on how these relationships reflect the desire and delusion we all experience in our romantic pairings.
Love Lockdown infiltrates spaces many of us have only heard whispers of—from conjugal visits to prison weddings to relationships between the incarcerated themselves. A fascinating and unputdownable deep-dive from the “quirky, engaging, and surprisingly uplifting” (Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author) journalist Elizabeth Greenwood, Love Lockdown will change the way you look at the American prison system and perhaps relationships in general.
Journalist Greenwood (Playing Dead) paints a colorful portrait of the world of MWIs, or couples who "met while incarcerated." Contending that "prison relationships are sometimes a bubble of heaven against a backdrop of hell," Greenwood profiles five couples. Jo and Benny Reed, who met on a pen-pal website, got married while Benny was serving a 10-year sentence for attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend. Sherry, a trans woman, and Damon, a bisexual man, last names withheld, communicate through the air vent between their prison cells. Before the Innocence Project helped overturn Fernando Bermudez's wrongful conviction, he and his wife, Crystal, had three children together. Sheila Rule volunteered with her church's prison ministry and married Joe Robinson while she was an editor at the New York Times. Greenwood also shares her own experiences with a prison pen pal who showed her "the laserlike attention that a man with a very long day and little to fill it with can lavish on a lady," profiles organizations that support MWIs, and sketches the history of conjugal visits in the U.S. (only four states still allow them). Enriched by the author's curiosity and empathy, and shot through with memorable details (Jo and Benny "toast each other with blue Powerade from the vending machine"), this is an intriguing look at a little-known world.