For Dear Life

Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus

Non-Fiction - Art/Photography
216 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2019
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Author Biography

Carol Jacobsen is an artist, writer and political organizer whose works in film/video, photography, installation and political dissent draw on long term legal, extralegal and creative work with and for freedom and human rights of incarcerated women. She is professor of Art, Women's Studies and Human Rights at the University of Michigan and she serves as Director of the Michigan Women's Justice & Clemency Project, a grassroots effort that has freed 13 women from life sentences and protests human rights abuses in Michigan’s state prison for women. Her published writings have appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Signs Feminist Journal and others. She has presented exhibitions and lectures across the U.S. and abroad and is represented in New York City by Denise Bibro Gallery co-sponsored by Amnesty International.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus by Carol Jacobsen is a non-fiction book on the societal issue of females in incarceration in America and what life and the social justice system is like for women who commit crimes. In this book, Carol has used primarily art media such as photographs, film stills, actual court and legal documents in cases, essays, letters and documents written by some women prisoners themselves to bring alive the stories of these women prisoners and their life in jail. The book is divided into several chapters and sub-headings such as prison, protests and prostitutes’ rights, sentences, clemency, conviction, segregation unit, files on cases of justifiable homicide, life on trial, and more that highlight the issue of gender discrimination, sexism, and misogyny that runs rampant throughout the social and legal justice system just as it is prevalent in society itself.

I found For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus to be a fantastic read and the stunning photography and visual media make the stories real and hard-hitting. I learned quite a few things that were eye-opening such as cops themselves getting favors from prostitutes instead of protecting them, and the sexist judgment that accompanies female convicts even in cases such as of a mother killing someone to protect her child. Carol writes in a compassionate, authentic, and genuine style and the real-life footage and photographs add a raw touch of somber reality. Her passion for this subject as a feminist and as a woman and her presentation are courageous and I hope it encourages more people to take a closer look at this system. In the end, this book shines a light on a patriarchal social justice system which is reflective of patriarchy in society in general. I hope this book encourages more people to stand up for women’s rights and feminism. I highly recommend this book.