Stamps Professor and author of the book For Dear Life: Women’s Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus(University of Michigan Press, 2019), Carol Jacobsen was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as part of the paper’s investigation into the surging rates of inmate deaths in Michigan prisons. According to the investigation, prison deaths in the crowded Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility near Ypsilanti are particularly pronounced, with ten prisoner deaths in 2018 — more than double the number reported there in any year since 2010.
Using her creative practice as a filmmaker and photographer in tandem with political and legal work through her non-profit Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project, Jacobsen has worked for decades as a fierce advocate of clemency for women in the criminal justice system. In January 2019, Jacobsen wrote to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other officials to report mold and unsanitary conditions at the prison, as well as “breathing problems, coughing, terrible rashes, bleeding” and “an epidemic of deaths and injuries.”
“I’m always concerned about the deaths a Huron Valley,” said Jacobsen in a video interview with the Free Press. “But especially last year when it peaked to ten deaths all in that year. Because there is no good reason for women — average age 52 or 53 — to have died.”