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Praise for 30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor and Karen Gedney MD

"Thirty Years Behind Bars is a memoir that at times reads like a novel. Dr Gedney’s writing style superbly balances humorous, as well as heart wrenching anecdotal incidents with underlined philosophical soul searching ideas based on her long term observation and experience. She juxtaposes emotional undertones, intelligence and her inner voice with the harsh reality of trying to be a doctor in a flawed and broken system operated like an Orwellian bureaucracy. She also discusses rehabilitative prison reform, advanced education for corrections workers, arts as therapy and the treatment of incarcerated HIV patients. All of those issues are as relevant today, if not more, than they were thirty years ago. Her ability to show all sides of an argument makes readers look beyond black and white judgements and half-assed solutions." 

Click here for the full review

--Lee A. Gooden 8/5/21--

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A compellingly informative and deftly written memoir, "30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor" showcases Dr. Gedney's career and provides fascinating insights into a correctional system. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Penology supplemental studies curriculums in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


--Carl Logan--

“I would recommend 30 Years Behind Bars, as mandatory text review for all new correctional employees; not just doctors and other medical staff, but uniformed staff as well. May you be blessed for your efforts to kill the Nevada death penalty.”


--Ron McAndrew, Former Prison Warden and Interim Director of Corrections, FL, now retired as a consultant and expert witness.--

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"30 Years Behind Bars, reveals the strength of women to survive in very challenging circumstances. Karen Gedney was incredibly brave to be the 1st woman doctor in a male prison in Nevada. She shares her story with vulnerability and candor and continues that bravery as an advocate for prison reform and abolishing the death penalty."


--Gail Chasey, New Mexico State Representative, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Sponsor of the 2009 Repeal of the Death Penalty in NM--

"30 Years Behind Bars is a revelation of authenticity and wisdom. Karen’s story of her transition from a naive doctor to a woman of wisdom, and now becoming a public activist is inspiring.” 


--Chip Conley, author Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder , and Founder of MEA, Modern Elder Academy--

“30 Years Behind Bars is a compelling read! This book is for anyone wanting to know more about the inner workings of our correctional institutions or studying criminal justice or law enforcement...Having spent some years working in the prison the author writes about, I can say it is a very accurate and realistic portrayal of the inherent conflicts that exist inside our prison systems...I found myself calling out in my mind..."I want more, much more!"


--Robert Rose--

“30 Years Behind Bars is a fascinating page-turner that invites you into the insular world of prison life. It offers an open look through the eyes of a true healer. Dr. G's voice is as compelling as her tale. It's difficult to read this story and not share in Dr. G's passion for rehabilitation for inmates and addicts and healing for all.”


--Joshua Joseph Burkett--

“30 Years Behind Bars is an inspirational book with a great message - step outside of your comfort zone and make a difference in the world around you. Dr. Gedney’s story is one that should be shared with friends, colleagues and students!” 


--Danielle Hardee--

“Dr. G. writes in 30 Years Behind Bars with the eloquence and empathy of a compassionate clinician as she shares the unique and sometimes horrifying experiences encountered through a three-decade career as a prison doctor. Most striking in her expression is the raw vulnerability with which she shares her story...she shares a vision of hope for a healthier, more integrated and holistic future within the corrections system and society at large.”


--Chas Allen--

“I worked for Nevada Dept. of Corrections with Dr. Karen Gedney for two years at the Northern Nevada Corrections Center medical clinic. 30 Years Behind Bars, chronicles her 30 years of experience in the state prison system. Fascinating, well written, and a look at our prison system through the eyes of someone with way above average brain power and that genuinely cares about her fellow human beings. If you’re looking for a fascinating read, try this.”


--Frederick Fasig--

“Dr. G uses her unique experience to show that the proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can be applied not only to medicine but also to the US corrections system. 30 Years Behind Bars reveals compassionate care for the incarcerated in stark contrast to the “you got nothing coming” attitude that is often the primary motto of the country’s prisons. She shows us the value of inmates seeing themselves as a positive force in the world.” 


--Jim Lauria--

“We had Karen talk about 30 Years Behind Bars, and it was an inspiring conversation. Have you ever wondered why your friends who volunteered in a prison did so? have you ever wondered what inmates life was like? Go beyond Orange is the New Black and find out answers to these questions and more. Powerful book”


--Mary Richardson--

"Karen Gedney's 30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor is the true story of a female doctor’s thirty years of service to the United States Corrections System, serving as the prison doctor in a male prison. That she accepted the challenge in the first place, as a young graduate, is surprising. That she continued after being the victim of a violent crime is astonishing. That she remained in the post for thirty years is nothing short of awesome. Her story is one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking tales I have read in a very long time. Karen Gedney poses some challenging questions in 30 Years Behind Bars. If you are among those who, like me, have been tempted to say that we should lock up criminals and throw away the key, she might make you uncomfortable with that belief. She might even change your view entirely. Gedney tells in one chapter of a program that involved bringing aggressive dogs into the prison for the prisoners to train. She asks the question if we can believe that an aggressive animal can be tamed with love and guidance, why not humans? She points out that punishment isn’t working to stop recidivism, and asks if maybe a different approach would be more successful. One can’t help but wonder!

Gedney speaks with great empathy and understanding of the prisoners she treated, many of whom were lifers who committed horrendous crimes. And yet she sees goodness in them. She sees hope. She sees that helping them to find a purpose in life and a reason to want to change can drive real change. And she tells with justifiable pride of the projects she instigated and ran in her spare time to teach prisoners how to change and to motivate them to want to. This is not a book you read for entertainment. It’s a very serious study that will, at times, cause great discomfort. But it’s a book that should be compulsory reading for everyone involved in the criminal justice system or correctional system. It’s a book that will hopefully inspire many to volunteer their time, energy, and skills to work on projects that give prisoners hope and to lobby for reform of a flawed system. I congratulate Karen Gedney MD both for her amazing work and for writing her inspiring story. It does what I believe all good writing should do. It nudges the world a little. It shines a light in dark corners and prompts us to think about how to make the world a better place. Well done, Dr. G. Thank you for your service."

--Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite--

"Karen Gedney, MD's 30 Years Behind Bars is an inspiring and powerful story that documents the author’s experience of almost three decades behind bars as an internal medicine specialist. Sent to a male medium-security prison, Karen is enthusiastic about the placement, but the naïve young woman quickly discovers that the prison is far worse than what she had imagined it to be, a place where the focus is more on punishment than rehabilitation. As a holistic doctor, Karen’s passion for healing and reintegration drives her as she helps the inmates, navigating a treacherous world filled with addicts, people who are broken, and even rapists. At the heart of this story is her experience of trauma and a journey toward healing. It is filled with lessons and offers readers a brilliant portrait of what an unyielding prison system looks like.


Karen’s memoir is written from the heart and in a voice that is irresistible and filled with honestly. She says things as they are, and even when talking about her experience of being held hostage and raped by Moth, an inmate, she captures raw emotions with clarity. The detachment she demonstrates in the situation is brilliantly captured in the writing: “When he did rape me I did not feel anything, except that I was in control.” The writing is stellar, and Karen has the gift of exploring strong emotions with descriptions that are vivid; the dialogues are expertly reconstructed, flowing naturally. Karen Gedney, MD's 30 Years Behind Bars is a tale of bravery, resilience, and grit, and uncovers one woman’s courage in dangerous situations. Faith in her calling and her refined sense of empathy will inspire readers to look past the brokenness in criminals and see human beings in need of healing. It is a page- turning memoir that is as poignant as it is revealing.

--Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite--

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