Andrea is a 28-year-old Scottish woman. After suffering years of domestic violence, Andrea was arrested for attempting to murder her boyfriend. The attempted murder charge was subsequently dropped to wounding and she was sentenced recently.
Andrea is writing from a women’s prison in England.
13 October 2008
The keys entered my cell door at 6:30am. My shaking hands picked up my bags, and I walked through the prison to the reception for my final strip search. As the guards sealed my belongings, my nerves were at a high point.
I sat and had my morning coffee, but my stomach was unfit for eating breakfast. It was churning.
By 7:30am I made my way to the “sweat box” (a big white prison van) and sat down. I could barely breathe. All I could think was, This is it, which repeated over and over in my mind.
As it was a 2 ½ hour journey to the court, I decided to have a nap, as I never slept the night before. Before nodding off, I prayed to God:
Oh Lord please hear my voice and answer my prayer.
I know I have committed a terrible crime and deserve to be punished for just a little longer.
Oh Lord, I am so sorry and just wish to put things right.
Lord I pray for a sentence of no longer than 3 ½ years.
Oh Lord, please answer my prayer.
Then I drifted off to a silent sleep.
I arrived at the court around 10:15am.
As my wrists were cuffed, I started to have cold sweats. I was taken to a cell, uncuffed and then to a visit from my barrister.
“How are you?”
“Good, but very nervous.”
He started to discuss my case, and then mentioned a sentencing range of 4 to 7 years. The latter being an extended sentence.
I felt like I had swallowed my heart.
My only relief was upon hearing that my medical, psychological, and probation reports were all in my favour.
He then says, “OK. I’ll see you soon and good luck.”
At that point, I said to myself, I bloody need it.
I returned to the cell, put my head down on a pile of magazines and fell asleep.
The door opened.
“It’s time!” an officer said, and cuffed me.
Slowly, I walked to the courtroom. I paused at the door, took a deep breath and then walked in to looks from the reporters, prosecution and judge.
“Yes, Your Honour.”
They started to talk about my crime, making me out to be a right animal. I had expected this.
I looked at the faces all around, all looking at me in disgust.
My barrister took his stand.
It was then my years of receiving domestic violence were spoken about, and the faces soon changed. I was relieved to see faces of sadness and not disgust. My injuries were disclosed (not that I was in a bad way). I had only suffered two cuts to my throat and as per normal another black eye, but I was used to all of that.
By this time my nervousness had gone and I felt somewhat happy with myself.
Ten minutes later, I was sentenced to 40 months in prison. I smiled in relief and said, “Thank you,” to the judge.
It was the worst but best day of my life. My prayer was answered. Justice was done, I believe.
Since returning to the prison I have been happy – well as happy as one can be considering.
I have received my release date: 23rd February 2010. But I can apply for tag curfew in October 2009 and be on licence till 25th October 2011.
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Shaun P. Attwood