Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Doing life vs. living life

Michaela's picture

I find it really interesting the distinction that Betty Heron makes between "doing life" (as is suggested by her "lifer" status in prison) and "living life". I like that she is taking on a proactive attitude, that she will not be confined by the boundaries of her current situation, but I also wondered at her choice to say that she "dealt herself" (Doing Life, Zehr, pg. 68) her circumstances, given the nature of what we have discussed in class, that arrests and imprisonments (life sentences or otherwise) are often the choice or the "fault" of the unjust criminal justice system and not the incarcerated person themself. The sociological side of me also wants to think of Betty (though she has trouble labeling herself with her first name) as socially and environmentally influenced by many factors that are and were out of her control, both now, in prison, and before the incident that wound her up where she is today. But given the relative "innocence" of a white woman in the criminal justice system, as we have read in several texts for this 360, is she as much a victim of her circumstances as a woman of color might be?