Women in Prison: From Lifer Helen (Letter 1)
The voices of women prisoners are seldom heard. You may be familiar with Andrea and Renee who write for Jon’s Jail Journal, and now I’d like to introduce you to Helen by way of her first letter.
My name is Helen and I’m housed in a Georgia State prison. First off, in Georgia some people go to prison for crimes someone else committed. I fall under that category. I dated a guy who killed my only son. It was hard enough losing my son, but then I was sentenced to 20 years.
The past 9 years have been the worst of my life. I have seen prisoners get sick and beg for help, only to be turned away. I’ve seen three women die because of this. I’ve seen a woman get her head bashed against the concrete floor over an argument about a TV program.
Back in 2005, the guards moved us to this prison. I have been moved from one dorm to another 34 times.
I was moved from a woman who wanted a relationship with me. When I refused her attempt in 2007, she choked me. The guards took me and put me in lockdown.
Then in June 2008, they put her back in as my roommate. I flipped out. They moved me again. I’ve had a few problems out of her since, but nothing major.
Now in 2009, this prison decided they can’t afford to give us but one roll of toilet tissue and one bar of soap per week. We have to get sanitary items from family. They only feed us two meals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The amount is not enough to say you even ate. If they can’t afford to take care of us, why are they keeping us in prison? If you don’t have family helping you, you are out of luck.
Between my meds for being sick and seeing the doctor, I owe the State of Georgia $116.50. I have no family support, so I haven’t even been able to go to commissary since 2006.
It’s not easy being locked up. I read a lot of books and stay in my 8 foot by 12 foot cell all of the time.
As this is Helen’s first letter for Jon’s Jail Journal, your comments and questions would be appreciated. If you wish to write to Helen then email me your name and address. She does not have Internet access, so I will mail your comments and emails to her.
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Shaun P. Attwood