Rotterdam Photo

Sara Bennett

Inside & Out: Women with Life Sentences

More than 200,000 people in the United States are serving life sentences, a punishment that barely exists in other western countries. I’ve long believed that if judges, prosecutors, and legislators could see people who have been convicted of serious crimes as individuals, they would rethink the policies that lock them away for decades or even sometimes forever.

The photos in this exhibition are of women who were convicted of serious crimes — mostly homicide — and were given life sentences. Some of them have been released, after serving anywhere from 14 to 37.5 years in prison, and I photographed them in their most private spaces — their bedrooms. Others are still incarcerated and I photographed them in their prison environments.

Each woman is so much more than the one act that sent her to prison. They are all hard‐working, resilient, introspective, and remorseful. They strive to live meaningful lives.

Which leaves us with the question: what do we do with a redeemed life?

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Rotterdam Photo

Willemsplein 85, 3016 DR Rotterdam.

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