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30 Years Behind Bars


This is a work of nonfiction.  In order to protect their identities, I changed the names and identifying details of colleagues, officers, and inmates — except for one name, which is a matter of public record. The events, timelines and conversations that took place were recounted from the journals I kept, from the writings of the inmates, from newspaper articles, and from my memory.

Karen Gedney, M.D.



I looked at the phone in my hand, and thought: so I’m going to prison for the next four years. It was 1987, and the National Health Corps was placing me in an under-served area to pay back my medical school scholarship. I had known this day was coming, but it never occurred to me that I could be sent to a male medium-security prison. Part of me was thrilled that they were sending me to a facility close by, so I didn’t have to relocate to a different region. The other part of me wondered what it would be like to be a prison doctor. I hung up the phone and went into the den to share the news with Coley, my husband of two months......


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