Evie Litwok “I am a Witness”
Incarcerate US Podcast Host Azzurra Crispino Interviews Evie Litwok, a formerly incarcerated Jewish Lesbian who spent time in two federal prisons.
Incarcerate US Host Azzurra Crispino gives an in depth look into Mass Incarceration through the experiences of a formerly Incarcerated woman. What makes this interview different to many others on the Incarcerate US Podcast is that it reveals the truth about being a lesbian behind bars.
Evie Litwok is the author of If Hitler Didn’t Kill Me, You Will and Volunteer Director of Witness to Mass Incarceration
a project dedicated to memorializing America’s 40-year history of mass incarceration. She is also an advocate for improving conditions for the aging female population both in prison and returning home.
Why were you convicted?
I have been in prison twice. The first time, I was 60 years old, and I was convicted on three felony counts of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud. I was released when my case was overturned as two of the tax charges were deemed legally insufficient based upon the evidence presented by the government. I then went to prison a second time at age 63 when one of the tax evasion charges was retried. Prior to both trials, I was offered plea bargains with no jail time, but I was innocent so I fought the charges. To learn more about Evie’s experiences listen to her interview and the added audio at the bottom of the page.
Going to prison
After I lost my first trial, I was sent to a federal prison camp that was difficult for an older person. The prison camp was divided into an upper compound, which contained the housing units, health center, library, chapel, and recreation buildings; and a lower compound, which consisted of the dining hall, laundry, education center, and commissary. The return trip from the lower compound to the housing unit was over a mile and up a steep hill. I had balance problems—on rainy or snowy days I walked slowly because I feared falling. I had to stop every 10 feet or so to catch my breath. The weather—severe heat in the summer and arctic cold in the winter—the terrain, and the physically tough environment of the prison were hard for older women. The stress of surviving was added pressure.
What is Witness to Mass Incarceration?
As a formerly incarcerated lesbian who served time in federal prisons, I’m committed to working to end mass incarceration in the U.S. Inspired by Steven Spielberg who interviewed Holocaust survivors and built an extraordinary digital library housed at the USC, The Shoah Institute, I created Witness to Mass Incarceration – a story telling & organizing archive project that documents the stories and experience of formerly incarcerated women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. – Evie Litwok