The Death of Ms Hawkins (by Lifer Renee)
Renee - She was only a teenager when she received a sixty-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
I woke up a little early. I made my coffee. My roommate, Jess, was still sleeping. She’s a light sleeper, so I had to move around in slow motion, not making too much noise. I sat on the end of my bunk, watching the news and sipping coffee. I heard my neighbor singing and thought to myself, Just because you have a new roommate that is deaf does not mean that we are. The singing woke Jess up, and she went through her morning routine.
By 7:37am the guards had still not opened our doors. I looked out of the window. The yard was deserted. No one. No officers in sight.
“It looks like we’re locked down. No rec for you,” I said jokingly to Jess. I decided to wash my laundry, hating the manual process of scrubbing everything in the sink with a bar of soap and a military brush.
Then they opened the doors. I stepped outside to see if it was for rec or breakfast.
An officer was screaming, “If you’re going to breakfast, let’s go! We’re under ICS!”
I looked at Jess. “I wonder what the hell’s going on now.”
“Don’t know,” Jess said.
We shut our door. Jess gazed out of the window. I finished my washing. My room looked like a Chinese Laundromat.
They opened our doors again for people returning from breakfast.
Jess, being nosey, went outside and returned a few minutes later. She looked at me, her face in disbelief. “We’re locked down because Ms Hawkins on 26 yard died some time last night. They were trying to work on her, but she died. They found her in her bed with her inhaler clutched in her hand.”
I dropped my head. “How many people are going to die?”
“Ms Mauder is next,” Jess said.
Ms Mauder has terminal lung cancer. She wants to be classified as DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), but DOC policy states that they must revive her.
The next day, I went to my friend Molly’s cell. We came outside, and sat on a curb talking.
“Molly, I need a favor. I need to know how much it costs to be cremated and to create a living will. If I die in here, will you make sure I’m cremated and spread my ashes over the ocean please?”
Molly looked a little shocked.
“I do not have anyone on the streets. I don’t want to be buried in a DOC lot, please?”
“Yes, girl, I will do it. Which ocean?”
“The Atlantic. I don’t really care. Ocean, river, just a large body of water.”
“OK. We’ll set it up.”
Molly and I have been friends for almost 10 years, and now she is on her way out of the door. I trust she’ll do this for me.
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