For the past four years, I have been photographing formerly incarcerated women in their bedrooms. All were convicted of serious crimes, mostly homicide, and spent 14 to 35 years in a maximum-security prison. By the time they came up for parole they were all profoundly changed, yet most of them were repeatedly denied release because of the crimes they had committed decades earlier.
These women were open and trusting enough to allow me into their most private spaces — their bedrooms — and to share the comments that accompany the photos. Like me, they hope this work will shed light on the pointlessness of extremely long sentences and arbitrary parole denials, and thus help their friends still in prison: women (and men) like them who deserve a chance at freedom.
Sara Bennett has been a public defender specializing in battered women and the wrongly convicted. She draws attention to the problems of mass incarceration through her photographs of women who’ve served decades in prison. Her work has been featured in, among others, The New York Times, PBS News Hour/Art Beat, PDN Photo of the Day, and the Marshall Project, and has hung in a variety of venues including universities, galleries, the courthouse at 60 Center Street, the Legislative Building in Albany, and the Museum at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.