About unPrison & the Founder

The unPrison Project works to build literacy, mentoring, and life skills capacity for women and girls in prisons, and for their children, to help cultivate critical thinking as tools to plan, set goals, and prepare for successful life after prison, and at the same time bring public awareness about mass incarceration. 


Born in an Appalachian prison to a mother addicted to heroin, Deborah Jiang-Stein spent the first year of her life in incarceration, then bounced into foster care until she was adopted in a permanent family.
After overcoming the realities of her past – including addictions of her own – Deborah set out to empower and inspire incarcerated women with the hope and tools needed to succeed in life after prison. Now clean and sober for more than 20 years, Deborah leads the unPrison Project, providing incarcerated women with education, literacy, recovery and mentoring programs to prepare for a successful life after their release.
Deborah is the author of Women Behind Bars, collected interviews of incarcerated women, and the memoir, Prison Baby, described as “One woman’s struggles—beginning with her birth in prison—to find self-acceptance, proving that redemption and healing are possible even from the darkest corners.” She was also a 2017 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth honoree. Her memoir-based play, LOCKDOWN LOVE, is in development for fim and stage.

Deborah speaks inside and outside prisons throughout the United States to a variety of audiences. Topics include Prison Reform, Resilience and Reinvention, Second Chances, and the Power of Hope.
If you’re interested in Deborah speaking at your institution, conference or event, email office@unprison.org.