A bold journey through images that bear witness to the tenacious power of art and activism
For Dear Life chronicles feminist and artist Carol Jacobsen's deep commitment to the causes of justice and human rights, and focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal regime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers. Jacobsen's tireless work with and for women prisoners is charted in this rich assemblage of images and texts that reveal the collective strategies she and the prisoners have employed to receive justice. The book gives evidence that women's lawbreaking is often an effort to survive gender-based violence. The faces, letters, and testimonies of dozens of incarcerated women with whom Jacobsen has worked present a visceral yet politicized chorus of voices against the criminal-legal systems that fail us all. Their voices are joined by those of leading feminist scholars in essays that illuminate the arduous methods of dissent that Jacobsen and the others have employed to win freedom for more than a dozen women sentenced to life imprisonment, and to free many more from torturous prison conditions. The book is a document to Jacobsen's love and lifelong commitment to creating feminist justice and freedom, and to the efficacy of her artistic, legal, and extralegal political actions on behalf of women.
Carol Jacobsen is Professor of Art, Women's Studies, and Human Rights at the University of Michigan and Director of the Michigan Women's Justice and Clemency Project.
Silver Medalist: 2019 Nautilus Book Award in Social Change and Social Justice- Nautilus Book Award
Winner, Freedom Fighter Award from The Independent Publishers Book Awards, 2020- Independent Publishers Book Awards
"I found For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus to be a fantastic read and the stunning photography and visual- Gisela Dixon
media make the stories real and hard-hitting...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."
"For Dear Life is a significant book for those open to traveling a layered path to understanding the experiences of imprisoned women and the arduous process of humanizing them within the legal system–and the community–when working to help them move beyond prison."- Kimberly Westscott
-Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
"This book puts a face to the movement of incarcerated women along with photocopies of their letters expressing their struggles, case updates, and pleas for help. Jacobsen has provided a strong voice, coupled with action and coherent strategy to advance incarcerated women's rights, gender justice and feminist organizing through art and creative expression."- Alexis E. L. Chase
Silver Medalist: Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) 2020 Midwest Book Award in Design– Interior Design- MIPA Midwest Book Award
Finalist: Stony Circle Network (SNC) 2020 Sarton's Women's Book Award- SNC Sarton's Women's Book Award
Winner: 2021 University of Michigan Press Book Award- UMP Book Award
Read: Carol Jacobsen interviewed in the Detroit Free Press Link I 12/24/2020
Read: Carol Jacobsen interviewed in the Detroit Free Press Link | 5/2/2019Read: Carol Jacobsen's clemency work in the Detroit Free Press Link | 12/19/2018Read: More of Carol Jacobsen's clemency work in the Detroit Free Press Link | 12/19/2018Read: Carol Jacobsen's interviewed in the Detroit Free Press Link | 12/5/2018Watch: Carol Jacobsen gives a talk at Penn Law on the Michigan Women's Justice & Clemency Project Link | 5/14/2012Watch: Sentenced: A UM Stamps spotlight on Connie Hanes, an inmate who committed suicide in her cell. Link | 2/22/2007