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Life after Life in Prison: The Bedroom Project

Sara Bennett | United States

TRACY, 51, in her own apartment three-and-a-half years after her release. Jamaica, NY (2017)
Sentence: 22 years to life
Served: 24 years
Released: February 2014

"I imagined coming home, living in a one- or two-bedroom apartment, where one was a master and an extra room for guests. Here I have that. I call this room my 'doll house,' my safe haven. I feel at peace. I’ve finally unpacked. I spend a lot of time in here. I take pride in everything. I put more into this room than into the kitchen. I know I need to eat, but my room is my nutrition."

The Bedroom Project comprises portraits of 17 women who were all convicted of serious crimes — mostly homicide — and spent 14 to 35 years in a maximum-security prison.

The 20 images are 20” x 24” pigment prints. Below the images are reproductions of the subjects' handwritten statements, providing glimpses of their lives both inside and outside prison.


For the past 4 years, I have been photographing formerly incarcerated women in their bedrooms. All were convicted of serious crimes — mostly homicide — and spent fourteen to thirty-five 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

Brooklyn, NY 




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