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May 9, 2018
She is also Director Emeritus of Constructing Our Future started as part of her Public Policy class at the prison. Kelsey’s interest in prisons and related topics of race and violence began as a teenager with three experiences: marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, AL, working with an all-male inmate crew assigned to the Maryland Statehouse where she was working, and living with a tribe of active headhunters in the Philippines.
After graduating from Yale in 1971 as a member of the university’s first class of women, Kelsey became a correctional officer at the Connecticut State Prison for Women in Niantic. She later went to graduate school at Harvard where she wrote her dissertation on the devastating effect that working in prisons has on officers.
Her book, Prison Officers and Their World (Harvard U. Press, 1988), remains one of the few in-depth studies of men and women who work in prison. In the years since, she has continued to research and write about prisons, including being an advocate for the return of prison nurseries in the 1990s, and investigating problems of white supremacy among prison employees in the 2000s. Kelsey is now a full-time grandmother living in Oakland, CA