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Caroline Bennett March 25, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mexico.
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Santa Martha Acatitla Female Penitentiary, Mexico

Caroline Bennett (b. 1983, USA) is a freelance photographer-turning-multimedia journalist currently based in Latin America, where she has worked on a variety of assignments and projects throughout the region for international and US-based media, NGO’s and private clients. She holds a dual B.A. in Documenting International Culture & Society (photojournalism based) and Political Science from Colorado College. When not shooting, Caroline has also worked at the Maine Photographic Workshops, Art Workshops Guatemala, and as a photo- editor  for several US national magazines. She is currently based in Quito, Ecuador, and is pursuing a long-term project on the Ecuador/Colombia border.

About the Photograph:

“This is an image from Born Behind Bars, a project started in Mexico City on children who live in prison systems with their incarcerated mothers. Among the inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla female penitentiary- one of D.F.’s roughest- are women serving sentences for murder, drug dealing and kidnapping. Fifty  children also live inside the prison with their incarcerated mothers. While prison may seem an unacceptable place to raise a child, the Mexican government has decided it will allow babies born behind bars to stay with their mothers until age six, rather than be turned over to foster homes or unprepared relatives. Inside the prison, moms serving long sentences dread the day when their child is tossed out upon turning six, and many struggle financially to care for them while they are there.”

“I started out on this project thinking: here you have this story screaming to be told in way that disgusts, but with all these glimpses of beauty and gentleness popping up against the harsh backdrop, as if maternity and human instinct know no bounds. Brute and hardened, tattoo-covered women smuggle in weapons and drugs and lash out at each other in the yard, then melt into calm while in the presence of a child. I’m striving to consciously capture these moments of softness, while still conveying the truths of the rough scene they were found in.”

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Comments»

1. Rosemary - April 5, 2009

What a intense contrast between the child and its mother. The infant being bright-eyed and innocent-yet locked up in prison. I appreciate that this photograph is in black and white and not in color because of the basic impressions that black and white have. Visually it creates a divide between the mother and the child; the child being swaddled in glowing white attire while the mother, being dressed in black is a more shadowy, and dreary figure. Conceptually, the child is the embodiment of purity, without “sin”, thus represented in white, while the mother is impure being in jail because of her wrongdoings.

On a different note, it seems strange to keep the children in prison with their mothers; however, it does seem like it would offer the most inspiration for the mothers to improve themselves- by having some one to live for there directly.

I really am interested to see more of this project.

Best Regards.


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