“If you can’t quit cryin’ you can’t come here no more”

Betty Frizzell

Growing up, the women around me did a lot of talking, but no one heard them. Their voice was lost in the confines of poverty and social standing. Often seen but not heard–I want to be their voice. It takes true grit to be a single woman or mother living in a small community with preconceived ideas of your existence. Limited resources and heartache did not stop them from carving out a life full of laughter and joy. Witnessing this type of courage and strength helped me transition from a shy country girl to a deputy sheriff who worked my way up to Police Chief. I love sharing their stories with others who may not have thought about the real lives of these women. Readers will get a glimpse into the intricate and complex stories of determination and survival. I am proud of my heritage of being a rural woman and enjoy writing about the people and places that made me.

Frizzell’s new book

From 1980 to present, the number of women in Missouri jails has increased 596%  and the number of women in prison has increased 1,339%. Most of the incoming female inmates are from rural places in the state which send the most people to prison(1).

In Betty Frizzell’s new book, “If you can’t quit cryin’ you can’t come here no more,” the story of one of those rural women, Vicky Isaac. 

On May 12, 2013, 48-year-old Vicky Isaac of rural Puxico, Missouri, a small town located near the Missouri bootheel, called 911 and confessed to shooting her husband. Her sister, Betty Frizzell escaped her family’s legacy of crime, addiction, and abuse to become a respected Chief of Police and teacher. Drawn back to the town and people of her past, Betty works to uncover the truth of murder. While investigating this case, she learns sad realities about mental illness, small-town politics and her own culture.

“Being a Missouri country girl, when Mom told me to do something, I did it. When she was dying during the summer of 2001 every request, she made felt important, and I thought it would be dishonorable not to go to any length to follow her commands. Often times, I wished I was raised somewhere else. Somewhere the burden of my raisin’ didn’t have a hold over me. Friends from other parts of the United States didn’t understand my devotion to a woman I didn’t understand or even like. Violence from the hands of your family was to be expected, but if outsiders dare threaten—that was another thing. Loyalty to our blood and kin was bred in the bone, and to disobey my Mom would be to betray that legacy. It wasn’t so much out of love that I would fulfill my promise to take care of Vicky and Kenny, but out of duty.”

Betty writes primarily about law enforcement and women in the rural criminal justice system. She states, “Most of my writings come from first hand experience as a detective and Chief of police in small town Missouri.  I hope to shine a light on how the lack of resources affects law enforcement with egregious consequences for the female population in these communities. Also, how being from a different gender and lower socio-economic background creates a differing diverse approach to policing.”

  1.  Vera  Institute of Justice. “Incarceration Trends in Missouri – Vera Institute of JusticeVer.” Vera Institute of Justice, https://www.vera.org/downloads/pdfdownloads/state-incarceration-trends-missouri.pdf.
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