Photo of Miriam Butterworth

In My Felonious Friends, Miriam (Mims) Butterworth tells of friendships with felons of several stripes, friendships based on her belief that felons share hopes, fears and needs common to all humanity. She makes a compelling case for reforms in our judicial system, informed in part by observation of prison systems in Central America, which she visited several times in official and unofficial capacities. Gordon Bates, former Executive Director of the Connecticut Prison Association, himself the author of a forthcoming book on Connecticut’s criminal justice system, says this about the book: “A huge thank you is due Mims Butterworth for adding her fascinating memories to the hidden histories of Connecticut’s criminal justice system. She and her husband, Oliver, were among the small cadre of citizens who began visiting prisoners at the Wethersfield State Prison in the 1950s. Few people have either the interest or the courage to enter the doors of a correctional institution just for the sake of sitting across from an inmate, usually not previously known to them, and extending the hand of unconditional friendship. The Butterworths visited and sought to help individuals, but their ultimate goal was to push for reform of the whole penal system. The stories contained here are gems of honest appreciation for the value of every human being and the mysteries of friendships in extraordinary settings.”

Cover art by Pierlette Jones,
courtesy of Community Partners
in Action Prison Arts Program.

At 96, Miriam (“Mims”) Butterworth is clear about her priorities and responsibilities: civil liberties cannot be taken for granted, and we who are privileged to live in this country must protect them for future generations. In the 1950s, Mims and her late husband, Oliver, volunteered as visitors at the Connecticut State prison facilities in Wethersfield and Somers. Since then she has been a devoted advocate for prison reform along with other types of progressive change. A faculty member of the Loomis Chaffee School, Mims was a vocal peace activist during the Vietnam War. She marched on Washington, witnessed the violence perpetrated by police at the 1968 Chicago Convention and, as a member of the People’s Delegation, attended the 1971 Paris Peace Talks. Later, she helped organize Connecticut’s support for the Freeze Movement aimed at halting the nuclear arms race. Appointed by Gov. Ella Grasso in 1975, Mims served as Commissioner of the Public Utilities Control Authority, and went on to become acting President of Hartford College for Women. She served on the West Hartford Town Council and in 1984 traveled to Nicaragua as an official observer of the first elections under the new Sandanista government. Between 1988 and 1998, she made four more trips to Central America with the American Friends Service Committee and the Center for Global Education, reporting on conditions in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-79-5

Copyright © 2015 by Miriam Brooks Butterworth
5.5" x 8.5" paperback, 74 pages



copyright © 2015 by Miriam Brooks Butterworth


For several decades beginning in 1956, my husband, Oliver, and I were involved with the Connecticut prison system and some of its inmates as well as with a few criminals from other places. By describing what we discovered about the lives, in and out of prison, of our “felonious friends” and what I learned as a member of two prison-related organizations, I hope to bring some light into a corner of our society most of us would rather not think about. I am not trying to prove our friends innocent – in fact I think they were all guilty as charged – but rather to show that they, their characters, and their actions were as varied and as complicated as those of us who have never been incarcerated, and that they deserved to be treated humanely, with a chance for rehabilitation and growth.


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