CCWP LogoCalifornia Coalition for Women Prisoners
Action Center
About Us
   The Fire Inside
Contact Us


Locked up - Locked down: A mother’s love for her child

An article by an incarcerated mother about not giving up hope for her child.

All names in this article have been changed to protect the identities of those involved in this incident.

Incarcerated mothers should never give up hope for their children. While inside, we need to fight within ourselves to stay together because though we don’t know where our children are- we still care. I tell my story to uplift other incarcerated mothers, and to reach my son. This goes out to you, my beloved.

Losing Peter, my son

I lost Peter when he was nine years old. He was the best mother’s day gift and was created by my former husband and myself, but we were in an extremely bad relationship. His father, Anthony, was an abusive man, and not only did he beat me but he’d hit Peter too. A picture of my son’s ear reminds me of Anthony’s abusive nature. Peter’s ear was badly bruised - Anthony dropped him and hit him so hard, that my son lost hearing in that ear.

One of the abusive things that he did snapped my spirit, and I did what I did. Anthony, Peter’s father and my former husband, raped me. Afterwards I was bleeding to death and I couldn’t get up. The next day, I did what I did to get me jailed. In my culture, you don’t say my husband’s hurting me and my child, so after I made my poor choice and was arrested- I couldn’t say “but he’s beating us”.

The last time I saw Peter was when he came in for a visit after I was already incarcerated. We had our visit, and the entire time I was embarrassed since I was wearing orange and we spoke through a glass. He asked me, “Mommy, what did you do?” and I said, “ I broke the law and I’m going to be here until I fix the problem. But remember to be good and that I love you.” That was the last time I saw him, and he was nine years old. That day, I felt in my heart that would be the last day that we’d see each other. Sad and depressed, I was worried about him. I was concerned for his well being, how he was handling the fact that his mother was in jail. It was painful … it was painful, and it was one of the worst moments of my life. Yes, being separated from my son Peter was worst than hearing my sentencing.

The abuser has him

After that last visit with Peter, I was taken back into my dorm and a neighboring woman was watching television. The t.v. cameras were inside the visiting room that day during my “special visit” with Peter. The prison system allowed me to have the visit, without telling me that cameras were taping it. One of my neighbors called out when I went into my cell, and said “your son is on t.v.”, and in the dimmed lights I turned and saw Peter on the television. The newscaster twisted the story, and said that Peter was being removed from me - the parent who’d supposedly kidnapped him. Afterwards I couldn’t sleep, and felt like I was having a heart attack because I couldn’t feel my arm. I prayed to God, and said, “if You take my son from me, please don’t get me sick in here too”.

I was on lockdown for two weeks, in a dorm with thirty other women and a small patio to get sun since we weren’t allowed to go out. There wasn’t much sun that month, and I didn’t feel the rays from the sunlight on my skin nor in my heart. I only have one picture of him, and it was from that “special visit” – the last day we saw each other. The social services took pictures of him, and I have only a photocopy of it. It was the same picture that the media used during their falsified story about me and our situation, and I hold it close because it’s of my son.

The County I was convicted in contacted my mother, and told her that Peter would be put into foster care if he had no immediate relatives that could care for him. So, my mother told the county that he had a father and the county called Anthony. My mother and I both felt it was better for Peter to be with his father, even though Anthony was abusive. We thought that if something was to happen, he’d actually be held responsible.

The system

Peter was on the witness list to testify against his own mother, even after the court system wouldn’t take the picture of his ear- so badly hurt by Peter’s abusive father- into evidence. They said it was because the court couldn’t determine Peter’s age in it. Still, though, my son didn’t testify.

During the prosecution, I was shocked to hear that Peter is wearing glasses. My heart dropped because my baby could’ve been affected so much by not having me – that he lost his ability of perfect sight. My mind tells me that it’s genetic, his grandmother wears glasses and so does his father. Even I wear reading glasses, but that day everything else was blocked out when I heard he was wearing them. I thought - but he’s so young, this all affected him to that amount! I don’t have peace in my heart, not knowing the answer to this and not knowing where Peter is. He may be a step, mile or state away, and I won’t have peace until I see him again.

Now, four years later, I spend my time in here trying to do everything I can to get out – so I can find my son. I schedule my duties as a prisoner in such a way to make certain to not break any rules, and I keep to myself in here. I write Peter letters, it’s a way to speak out to him, even though I cannot mail them to him. I don’t have an address due to the fact that everything surrounding Peter, and finding him, has been denied to me.

Fighting back

A lot crosses my mind now, and writing Peter letters is a way to get it all out to him symbolically and spiritually. In these letters I ask him how he’s doing, and hope that my heart reaches and finds him in the best of spirits. I tell him to please know that I think of him daily, because I don’t ever want Peter to think I ever stopped loving him. I ask him about his life in these letters, which remain unsent. I wonder about things like how he is mentally and physically doing, and so I ask him in the letters.

Peter- how was school today, did you do your homework, what’s your favorite subject, do you like sports and if you do- what kind? Peter, do you have any best friends? What are their names? Peter, are you eating your favorite food (spaghetti) still? Are you eating good? Peter, my beloved son, how are you adjusting to your new family? Your new life? Do you know that Mommy never stopped loving you, and I have your name engraved in me to remind me of you everyday?

I have no contact with my ex-husband, Anthony, and he has my son. If I had contact with him, I’d want to say that I’m terribly sorry for the poor choice I made. I pray to God everyday, that he’s being a good father to OUR son because OUR son deserves to be happy.

I want to tell other mothers that I know the pain they’re feeling; the awfulness that comes because we don’t know where our children are, the anxiety that comes around certain dates like birthdays. I know the loss of joy in those days, because they’re not things to celebrate without our children. I know, because we’re all facing the same problem of not being able to see our children due to the fact that we’re convicted for violent crimes. I think it’s more painful to not see our children, then the sentence we have to serve.

BUT, one of the things us mothers have to think about is getting out to see our children. We need to get our spirits and mentalities strong and together, to fight the good fight! We have to do whatever we can to work the program to heal our scared and scarred cores, and not let the prison system work us. Do your time, as “they” say, and don’t let time do you. There is always tomorrow, and there is always hope. We cannot lose that hope, not now – not ever.

Last updated August 17, 2003 06:33 PM

Search This Site
Join the Email List
CCWP Address