Mothers in Jail this Christmas

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
posted by squirrel

While I was in South Central Regional Jail last month, I made friends with some women whose stories highlight how the U.S. criminal justice system damages families and our society. A couple of them noticed the wonderful stream of letters that I was getting from people in our movement. Mail is one of the few things to look forward to in jail and my friends didn’t get a lot of it. The United States government prefers incarceration to reforming itself or solving problems in our society. Please send my friends some letters to let them know that there are people out there who are paying attention to the way the jails and prisons are used to oppress and repress, and people who remember the parents who have been taken from their families this Christmas.

Africa Griffin
South Central Regional Jail
1001 Centre Way
Charleston, WV  25309-1111

 

Keisha Belcher
South Central Regional Jail
1001 Centre Way
Charleston, WV  25309-1111

 

Africa was my roommate for most of my time at South Central (we even roomed together when there were extra cells open in our pod :-). Africa was sentenced to one year in jail for getting into a fight. This is Africa’s first offence, and this sentence (the maximum) is pretty much unheard of for a first offence battery charge. She will serve seven months in jail with her sister Amelia and her cousin Keesha, who were also involved the the fight. All three of them are mothers.

Africa has four kids and her youngest, Emanuel, is a two-year old with Down Syndrome and serious heart problems. It is possible that Emanuel will need to have a very risky heart surgery before Africa is able to get out of jail. Africa’s heart is breaking because she’s never been away from her kids before and she knows that she won’t be with them this Christmas. Africa’s sister has had to quit her job to take care of the four kids and is under extreme financial duress. Emanuel has to be on oxygen at all times and has frequent doctor’s appointments, one of the many errands that Africa’s sister finds difficult without being able to drive. If you would like to help get Africa’s kids presents this Christmas, please call (978-491-1244) or email ([email protected]); I’ll be working on making that happen.

I was really lucky, and really appreciative, to get lots of wonderful letters when I was in jail (sorry I didn’t write most of you back–I had a limited amount of stamps, envelopes, etc.). It’s important to our struggle that we not forget those who fight for justice and end up behind bars. Writing to imprisoned activists and other political prisoners is also a great way to learn from some very compelling people. Why not pick a pen pal from this list?

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