More than 200,000 people in the United States are serving life sentences, a punishment that barely exists in most other western countries. Since the time I was a public defender, I’ve believed that if judges, prosecutors, and legislators could see lifers as real individual human beings, they would rethink the policies that lock them away forever.
Almost all the women in the following portfolios were convicted of homicide. Whether currently incarcerated, or released after serving decades in prison, they are so much more than the one act that sent them to prison. They are all hard-working, resilient, dignified, introspective, and remorseful. They strive to live a meaningful life, to be worthy of our compassion.
Which leaves us as a society with the question: what do we do with a redeemed life?