Jackie Dewe Mathews‘ series Trafficantes, is time spent with women imprisoned for drug smuggling in Brazils’ Sao Paolo Capital Penitentiary for Women. Pretty much without exception, each woman made bad choices, but those were bad choices born of tough lives, low self-esteem and sometimes addiction.

The women come from all over the globe. Dewe Mathews opens the essay with this caption: “Sao Paulo Capital Penitentiary for Women, where women from over 30 countries are held. The largest numbers come from South Africa, then South America, followed by former Portuguese colonies in Africa such as Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique, as well as Europe, especially, Spain and Portugal and Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines.”

Throughout, Dewe Mathews makes efficient use of text-captioning to tell these womens circumstances. Some of the portraits are first class; by first class I mean laden with emotion and character. Other photos can be flat, but the series as a whole is a illuminating look at a hidden world.

Mathews appeared on Verve today, providing the following bio:

Jackie Dewe Mathews (b.1978, England) worked in the film industry as a freelance camera assistant on feature films and commercials. Her continued interest in cinematography has informed her photography practice which she was able to develop during an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication in 2007. In 2008 she was awarded the Joan Wakelin bursary for a social documentary project from the Guardian newspaper and the Royal Photographic Society. In 2009 she was selected by the Magenta Foundation for emerging photographers. In 2010 she was a runner up in the Ojodepez and Julia Margret Cameron awards.

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Thanks to Bob Gumpert for the tip.

Dewe Mathews’ work should be compared with Chan Chao‘s intimate portraiture.