Top 40 Susan Burton Quotes

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“A New Way of Life is a safe house that women can come to after they’re released from prison in South Los Angeles. It’s a place for women to detox the trauma, the torture of incarceration, be welcomed and embraced and live and begin their new path to – if it’s recovery or receiving mental health services, go back to school, get their children back.”

― Susan Burton

“Education, hard work, dedication, a support system, and knowing my life had value – these were what had made all the difference.”

― Susan Burton

“One of the things about incarceration is that you’re deprived. You lose all of your identity, and then its given back one day, and you’re ill-equipped to actually embrace it and work it.”

― Susan Burton

“I knew I wasn’t born to be caged and chained up.”

― Susan Burton

“I went to pick my son up from school and walked him back and was in the house preparing dinner, and he came in the house and gave me this flower of chrysanthemum that was full of ants. And he went back out to play and ran out into the street and got hit by a car. The car happened to be driven by a LAPD detective.”

― Susan Burton

“I can remember, as a child, the happy days of us all piling into the car and going to the drive-in. And that was a weekly routine for my father. He was a proud black man, and that all sort of vanished as America began to export jobs.”

― Susan Burton

“Nothing good could ever have come of my life if I hadn’t been able to get therapy and overcome my addictions.”

― Susan Burton

“There are so many bright people who just need an opportunity to help others and pay it forward.”

― Susan Burton

“Unless we address those that are leaving prisons, we can’t begin to repair the damage of mass incarceration and make our communities whole and healthy once again.”

― Susan Burton

“Our ancestors went through so much in a fight for us to vote. So I believe that we should engage in all civic participation. It’s healthy engagement.”

― Susan Burton

“Each time I left prison, I left with the resolve to get my life together, to get a job, to get back on track. And each time, the task became more and more and more daunting.”

― Susan Burton

“Long before I ever got incarcerated, I should’ve been able to access services that help me deal with the grief and the loss of my son, that help me deal with the trauma, the abuse that I experienced as a child.”

― Susan Burton

“It’s important the sheriff and the D.A. work with the community to realize real-world solutions. If they make decisions in silos, it will fall short.”

― Susan Burton

“Insulin is a crisis medication.”

― Susan Burton

“After six prison commitments, at the end of those, I was more broken than when I went into the system.”

― Susan Burton

“We keep a woman in prison for decade after decade at a cost of $60,000 a year, and then give them $200 when they hit the gates for release. And, adios. People have to get their IDs, Social Security cards. They have to get clothing, housing, apply for benefits and services, and it’s impossible to do with 200 bucks.”

― Susan Burton

“The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery other than in prisons – but it was a lie that you regained your freedom once you left the prison gates.”

― Susan Burton

“We continue to work on policy to end discrimination against people with criminal records.”

― Susan Burton

“Telling your story is transformative. For both the storyteller and their audience, a new bridge to understanding is created.”

― Susan Burton

“Most incarcerated women have stories that are similar to mine. They suffered great trauma as children.”

― Susan Burton

“Morning meditation is important to start every day on a positive note.”

― Susan Burton

“It would have been great if there were a trauma center located in our community, where you could access grief counseling and be able to address it in a healthy manner.”

― Susan Burton

“Life has took me on a journey, and through much of that journey, I didn’t feel whole, connected, and grounded. So as a kid, everyone called me Sue. My daddy called me Susie Q. But through this journey, I’ve sort of risen to a place that I get this level of respect of Ms. Burton.”

― Susan Burton

“People are released from prison so unprepared. They give you $200. We call it gate money. And you have to pay for a bus ticket back to L.A. You get off the Greyhound bus, downtown Skid Row, and you’re supposed to make a life from that.”

― Susan Burton

“Many times, I left the prison thinking, ‘I’m smart. I can make it. I won’t get caught up again.’ But you get off downtown Skid Row, and you’re a target for all of the environmental harms in that area. The pain and trauma in that area is so thick, you can almost reach your hand out and touch it.”

― Susan Burton

“When you get locked up, you get locked out.”

― Susan Burton

“In prison, you’re issued a number of sanitary pads per month. And many times, even when you’re issued a number of sanitary pads, the guards will just come in and rip your room apart, rip your locker apart and take them.”

― Susan Burton

“At the age of 46, in my sixth prison term, it was the second prison I was in – California Rehabilitation Center. The California Civil Education program kind of opened up all of the experiences that that I had dealt with in my life, that I had experienced.”

― Susan Burton

“We’re willing to spend countless dollars putting people who need help in cages, and then when they get out we say you can’t have a job, and you can’t have housing, and because you don’t have either, we’re going to take your kids, too.”

― Susan Burton

“I got caught back up in the underworld because the upperworld really doesn’t have a place for people with criminal histories.”

― Susan Burton

“Because a woman goes to prison doesn’t mean she’s a bad mom – doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t have her children.”

― Susan Burton

“If you don’t have a new door to walk through, the only thing is the old door.”

― Susan Burton

“When I see a woman make it over all the obstacles, my heart just sings.”

― Susan Burton

“The person who has been convicted has served their time. Why would we continue to punish and exclude them from housing and jobs? Those are the primary areas that allow people to get their lives back on track.”

― Susan Burton

“We know that the environment and political information is important, and we expose and teach the women about some of the environmental factors that lead to their incarceration.”

― Susan Burton

“I knew hundreds and hundreds of women like me, who had traveled in and out of prison in a revolving door. They needed support and help just like I had received. And it could make a difference, just like it had made a difference in my life. I wanted to see them come back to the community and have a chance at a different life, too.”

― Susan Burton

“Everyone needs a place to live. Everyone needs a place to come home to every night. I don’t understand why our society, our government, can think that you can lock a person away for months or years… and then release them back after they pay their debt without any support and expect it to be okay.”

― Susan Burton

“It has to be about more than punishment. We need to rehabilitate people. We lock up far too many people in America today. We lock them up as if locking them up is gonna solve the problem. And locking them up does not solve the problem. Did locking me up make me better? No, it did not. It made my struggle harder.”

― Susan Burton

“We all make mistakes. Sometimes people slip, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of the support.”

― Susan Burton

“It seems like I was born into trouble.”

― Susan Burton
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