09 Jul 08

Women in Prison: From Lifer Renee (Letter 2)

As a teenager, Renee received a sixty-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, she is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona.

June 21, 2008

Dear Shaun,

Hello. How are you doing? I hope all is well with you.

It was surreal reading the copy of the blog I wrote.

You asked me how supportive are my friends and family. I have not talked to my family since I was 16 years old. I was born in Florida. I was raised there although we were always moving around. I was pretty much raised by my grandparents – my grandmother and step-grandfather.

My father was in and out of prison/jail my whole life. I never knew my mother. I have tried to find her a few times, but my attempts have been futile. I was molested by my step-grandfather from the time I can remember. When I was little he always used to tell me if I loved him I would do it. As I got older it caused problems. I acted out. Smoking pot, drinking. I lived with my father two times that I can remember. Both times the beatings were almost unbearable. I was always told I was worthless and would never amount to anything. I tried to commit suicide at 15. Long story short, I ran away from home at 16 because I did not believe I would make it to 18. My family did not report me as a missing person nor a runaway. All the while I was hitchhiking across country.

So no I have no family support or contact. I have not since I left. I have two friends that I have kept in touch with over the years. One I knew before I came to prison. One I met in here. Other than that it is just me. I do respond to mail but it always seems to fade for one reason or the other. I’ve learned if you do not expect anything there is little to be disappointed in.

To answer your question, “If two woman want to fight each other what is the procedure? Do they go to a cell or a shower room like in the men’s prison?”
There is no procedure. Women are usually very verbal before a fight. “F#@! you, bitch! I’ll beat your f#@!ing ass,” usually is in there somewhere.
They fight everywhere. Usually where it can draw the most attention because 9 times out of 10 they don’t want to fight. They fight on the yard, in the kitchen, on the runs. Those who really are not trying to get caught but feel they need to handle an issue will take it in a cell and not make a scene. So many fights do happen without being caught.
Who would want to be caught to be maced or tackled by officers who missed their calling for the NFL. Most fight’s here are because someone disrespected someone’s girlfriend.
Summers here are when the most fights break out. When it is 110+ outside and there is little to do to beat the heat, attitudes flair.
A couple of days ago, I was sitting at the benches. I just got off work. I was looking toward the track and I noticed the 2nd shift officers running.
A couple of girls came through the gate yelling to their friends in D pod, “Honey, they’re fucking boxing right there on the field.”
I saw the people migrating towards the gate.
A friend walked through the gate. I asked her, “Friend, what’s going on?”
She said, “Two girls are throwing it down, friend. It was a good one. No hair pulling. No scratching. They stopped fighting when the officer said to stop, but they sprayed them right in their faces anyways. It was crazy, yes.”
I asked who it was but she didn’t know.
Then I heard some black girls by the kitchen screaming, “I’ll whoop your ass till I can’t whoop your ass no more!”
Me and three other girls looked at each other and started laughing.
“Yeah, it’s summertime,” I said.

Yes, Om Nama Shivaya is a wonderful mantra to calm the mind and just be at peace. But some days this does prove to be a challenge. My practice now is in Hatha Yoga. I find serenity in asanas. I find liberation in the more challenging asanas. The book I am practicing from is the Swananda Companion to Yoga. Some of the asanas are pretty intense.

Well, Shaun, I have to cut this short. I have to go to work. I work a regular day, then I’m on call for the rest of it and unfortunately they broke something on 30 Yard. I’ll write more next time.



To read Letter 1 from Renee click here.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below


Anonymous said...


Is there an address where we can send correspondence to Rene?

-Jose in San Diego

Jon said...


Anyone who wants to correspond with Renee needs to email me their contact info, so I can forward it to her. Preferably with a few sentences as to why you wish to write to her.



Anonymous said...

This is so sad.

Chris H said...

Big Dawg!!

Can you remind me of Renee's crimes??

Chris H

Jon said...

Renee does not wish to divulge her crimes at this time.