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Deborah Jiang-Stein
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National Speaker, coming to a prison near you.

Founder of The unPrison Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit working to empower and inspire women and girls in prison.

Author of the memoir, PRISON BABY

Entries by Deborah Jiang-Stein

Born in Prison

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 3:35 PM

Cut off from the heroin I'd grown used to, as a newborn I battled through withdrawal. I was born in prison where my incarcerated mother was serving one of her many drug-related sentences. She was a heroin addict.

I Was a Heroin Baby

Her substance abuse started when she...

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Happy Mamas Day to Mothers in Prison

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 3:01 PM

And to other mothers who bear the brunt of hurtful policies

The wreckage of sentencing a pregnant woman who's also an addict costs our society more than the price of prison. I know first hand. My beloved biological mother, a chronic heroin addict, gave birth to me in a...

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Persist, Above All Else

(2) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 8:25 AM

A year ago around this time I was in discussion with Beacon Press about my memoir. The negotiations moved fast while I kept in mind the trail, over a 10-year span, of 56 rejections from publishers and three hardworking agents who'd run out of their resources, and all along I...

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"Locked in This Little Room, Things Get to You"

(14) Comments | Posted February 23, 2012 | 1:17 PM

For ten years off and on I've sat face-to-face with incarcerated women in various U.S. state and federal facilities, allowed private meetings with nothing but my tape recorder. I write more about this in Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus: Inside the World of a Woman Born in Prison.

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I Was Born In Prison

(481) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 9:43 AM

Excerpted from my memoir Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus: Inside the World of a Woman Born in Prison:

Mother grounded me for some violation I can't remember. She insisted Jonathan, my older brother, and I call her the formal Mother. We're both adopted. I wanted to call her...

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What Matters?

(6) Comments | Posted December 29, 2011 | 4:25 PM

One of my favorite singers, Etta James, is terminally ill battling leukemia. She's a wonder! I've seen her perform several times, once when she sang her whole concert propped in a chair center stage. This was the concert I sat in the front row and her drummer flirted with me...

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Who Says Tough Girls Don't Wear Tutus?

(19) Comments | Posted May 7, 2011 | 9:03 AM

It's Mother's Day, and I'm reminded where I learned to love whimsy and adventure -- my mother. You can read here about the influence of her curiosity, and how it saved me. She also taught me about the vitality of joy in the moment. It started with dance.

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Mutt Mediation #19: Miracles Better than a Snakebite

(2) Comments | Posted November 22, 2010 | 7:01 PM

It's not that I even like snakes. In fact, I won't post a photo of one here because they creep me out. But for whatever reason, I'm curious about the practice of snake handling. (Like any good Jewish girl, right?)

Okay I'll admit that's getting really mutty*, snake handling and...

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What's With the Jewish-Man/Asian-Woman Connection, Anyway?

(15) Comments | Posted November 4, 2010 | 2:03 PM

Sometimes, when the world seems crazy out there, we all get that inside voice going. You know what I mean; it's like the talk bubble in a cartoon.

Let's say you're out alone one summer night and you pop into a sushi bar. You're single and hot with your creamy,...

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Synchronicity On the Rise

(3) Comments | Posted August 31, 2010 | 1:46 PM

What are the odds of this?

These days, my prison mother's name, Martha, pops up everywhere I turn.

All about a name, the name of my birth mother whom I only knew in the Federal Women's Prison in Alderson, West Virginia, where I was born heroin-addicted, and where she served...

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Press the Reset Button: Part 2

(4) Comments | Posted July 27, 2010 | 3:50 PM

More than words sometimes, I'm inspired by visuals. And not just art.

Flow charts, graphs and pie charts are some of the entertainment that got me through my degree in economics. Besides the fact that econ was one of the (legal) rebellions against my English professor poet and literary critic...

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Your Reset Button: Do You Bang or Press It?

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2010 | 4:49 PM

I'm in the midst of writing a memoir. How I arrived at this writing project took much persuasion along a winding road from a short story of mine, now turned into a bio.

I usually choose fiction over real life. The process, however, has me tracking how I made it...

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QUIZ: Do You Need a Mother ... Mentor, Spiritual Advisor or Life Coach?

(0) Comments | Posted June 7, 2010 | 1:44 PM

It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

-- Anne Sexton

June is the month of Father's Day, but I'm still on the mother-theme of last month.

One advantage to having a lot of mothers in early life (like me) is...

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A Seder and Easter in 6 Words

(4) Comments | Posted March 29, 2010 | 10:55 AM

Aren't we tired of 140 characters and tweeting pearls of wisdom (or dregs of meaningless chatter?)

Last year, around this time, I wrote about Passover: Why not a Haggadah in 140 Characters? (You can read it here.)

Positive feedback came in from all faiths: Jews (secular to Orthodox,...

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Who In The World Invented Track Changes?

(2) Comments | Posted March 11, 2010 | 1:16 PM

Is anyone in their right mind able to really work with all the action behind track changes in a document?

What was the Microsoft programmer thinking when building this feature?

I know it's useful but I'm thinking: How can it be good if the whole experience of working with...

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Can Cheese Affect The Way You Sleep?

(2) Comments | Posted January 29, 2010 | 10:01 AM

Who Says Cheese Causes Nightmares?

When the British Cheese Board issued their 2005 study about the effect of cheese on sleep, who knew we'd snooze better after a snack on a slice of Cheddar or Stilton?


The study explored how...

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A Buddhist Skateboarding Monk: A Contradiction Or A Product Of The Modern Age?

(4) Comments | Posted December 28, 2009 | 1:54 PM

A monk skateboards inside an historic temple and causes controversy in China.

In Sichuan province near the top of Mount Emei, the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, stands the Dafu Temple. Here, a monk on a skateboard has stirred controversy about whether his skateboarding is appropriate...

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A Little Something For The Haves

(1) Comments | Posted November 27, 2009 | 8:20 AM

While the Have-Nots Look for Work and Housing...

Don't you love off-the-charts contrast? I do. While we have tent cities going up around the U.S., the extravagant offerings of Neiman Marcus' 2009 Christmas Book were unveiled last week. It's their 83rd annual catalog and don't worry, you can get...

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What's The Big Idea?

(5) Comments | Posted October 27, 2009 | 6:12 PM

Do "AHA" moments really come out of nowhere?

Like other wild minds out there, my creativity is off the charts, as people tell me. I like to draw on quirky instincts to come up with unexpected ideas (that probably comes from my "out of the box" start in...

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Transformation: A Lifelong Attitude

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2009 | 10:37 AM

What are you doing today to transform?

Before I recognized that being multiracial unites me with others, rather than separates, I used to consider myself an outcast. And I've grown beyond thinking of my birth in prison as a stigma. In fact, I'm lucky to have a wider world...

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