Photo London 2021
‘It is powerful to suddenly have a voice’: reframing women in criminal justice
By Matt Fidler
Someone’s Daughter, curated by Jennie Ricketts and presented with The View magazine , is a new photography exhibition highlighting how female prisoners are seen and understood, with the ultimate aim of reimagining the justice system. The show is appearing at Photo London alongside an online benefit auction hosted by Artsy .
By photographing women who have been stigmatised by the law, the courts and the media in the administration of justice, and displaying them alongside professionals working in the criminal justice space, the exhibition seeks to change how formerly incarcerated women are perceived and ultimately the way justice is served.
Sue Wheatcroft comments on the journey that led her to prison and the reforms she would suggest from first-hand experience.
“At the age of 18, I chased an abusive boyfriend into the street with a kitchen knife. After months of physical and mental abuse, I finally cracked. For this, I was given a conditional discharge. My next offence was 36 years later, when a kitchen knife was found in the back of my car. I kept it there so that I could cut up food for my seriously disabled wife when calling for a takeaway to eat in the car. For this, I was given a 12-month prison sentence.
“The judge said that, because of my first offence, I had a propensity for knives, so I was dangerous. I also had a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and I believe this added to the judges sentencing decision … I wasn’t dangerous, I was ill.”
So, how can the CJS be improved? “Education, training, awareness of the disadvantages people face would be a good start, and the involvement of those with lived experiences in this, is imperative … Perhaps we should stop putting all the blame on ‘the system’ and concentrate on the providers, those who deal with those at risk.”