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THURSDAY

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The war on drugs produces people like Elaine Bartlett, a mother of four whose 16 years in prison stemmed from a single drug sale. Despite her lack of a record and the fishy nature of her arrest, Bartlett’s crime fell under New York’s controversial Rockefeller drug laws—meaning she got a big-time sentence, had to leave her kids, and spent a lot of time stoned in the prison yard listening to the whoosh of passing cars. But in 2000, Bartlett received clemency and hooked up with reporter Jennifer Gonnerman, who set out to record her struggle. The result is Life on the Outside, a book that has already received a lot of “amen”s and “bless her”s from critics. But what you should take away are not the scenes of Bartlett protesting or hobnobbing with such B-list celebrity activists as Charles Grodin, but rather the ones of a newly free woman dealing with a broken-down apartment, the classifieds section, and a family on the verge of disaster. Bartlett and Gonnerman take you there at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jason Cherkis)