Freelance journalist Cristina Rathbone has clung to a commitment to reporting on social issues such as race, poverty, immigration, and education. Her first book, On the Outside Looking In: A Year at an Inner City High School, was an award-winning nonfiction work about at-risk teenagers and their “last chance” high school.
Her current project will focus on MCI Framingham, the oldest running female prison in the United States and the only all female prison in Massachusetts. Rathbone wants to show what life on the inside is like for these women, and also the impact their lives have on people outside the prison (children, guards, victims’ rights groups). Using the voices of the women there today, Rathbone will show that inmates are as human as the rest of us and that the way they are treated affects the way they behave in later life as surely as present circumstances dictate the futures of us all. By telling prisoners’ stories, Rathbone will show how America’s increasing reliance on the purely punitive distorts the aspirations of long-term inmates by its refusal to teach, treat, and train women, who, under different circumstances, might become law abiding and productive members of society.
Rathbone received her BFA in documentary filmmaking from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She worked as a freelance journalist for The Daily News, the Miami Herald, American Way Magazine, and Outside. She received the Booklist Editors’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1998.