For four years, I drove out to the Minnesota Women’s Correctional Facility in Shakopee to teach a two-hour writing class. This was both demanding and fulfilling work. My students tended to be intelligent, imaginative writers, but often poorly educated in the tools of writing. I got a close-up look at the consequences of racial and economic inequalities, of untreated mental illness, and of family dysfunction, especially child abuse. My students are not bad seeds or evil people. Some are in prison because their lives turned on one bad decision or one critical, chaotic moment. I am extremely grateful to Andrea Smith, the prison librarian, for getting me involved in this activity and for being an inspiring model of how to expect the best of women whom others often treat with contempt.