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Published: August 5th 2005
This is the kid I took to the zoo.
Earlier I told you the kids live in the prison with their mothers, but I really didn´t know why. Well, I found out today.
Most of these children were born in prison; they allow conjugal visits. The prison has both men and women, but they are segregated. However, if a husband and wife are in prison together, they get visits, and if just the wife is in there, her husband can come visit from the outside. So, needless to say, these women get pregnant in prison.
I guess it has become a pretty big problem, so now, if a women wants conjugal visits, they have to take a birth control shot.
Now, about the women; as far as I´m concerned, most of them don´t belong in prison. Have you ever seen ¨Maria Full of Grace´? If not, rent it. Most of these women have the same story. They are poorer than poor and they were offered good money to smuggle drugs. They did nothing violent, they hurt no one, they were just a vehicle for the cartels. When they get caught, the cartels do not provide lawyers, they do not pay the family, they do not do anything. They
move on to find another young women in serious need of money.
The worst part is, they get tricked by the police. The police will tell them to give names of the cartel people they are working for, and they will let them off. If the women comply, the police will actually charge them with a more serious charge of organized crime and give them 20 years instead of 5. It´s a screwed up system. So now the women will never turn in the cartel people (the people who really need to be in prison), because they know it will just buy them more time in prison.
Now, with all that being said, there are some women in the prison that are there for good reason. Killing their children, assault, etc. But that is a small percentage.
Also, I don´t think they should be having children while in prison. It´s just not fair to the child. But, they are, and that´s just the way it is.
So every Friday, Cross Cultural Solutions volunteers take the children out of the prison for a field trip. Today we took them to the zoo. There were 11 of us, and
11 children ranging from 10 months to 3 years (at 3 or 4 years old the children have to leave the prison and either go live with other family members or go to an orphanage). We went through security, then walked through the men´s prison to get to the women´s section. These men were not in cells, they were walking right along side of us. I was with 10 girls, in a prison. But amazingly enough, we were never threatened. We got to the women´s side and they started handing us their kids. I was shocked they let me in the women´s prison, as they do not even have male guards in there.
These kids were the best. So damn cute, and full of life. It´s is amazing to think they live in a prison. Chile was the kid I took care of. He is 3 years old and will be leaving the prison soon. Both of his parents are in for drugs, so he will probably end up in an orphanage for about a year until his parents get out.
We had a lot of fun at the zoo, then on the way back, every single kid
fell asleep on our laps. We each had to carry our kids back into the prison to give to the moms. It was hilarious. A bunch of white people walking through a prison with sleeping children.
On the way out, we drove past some land where some squatters live. It´s a little shanty-town of tents made of tarps that people live in. We slowed down to take a picture, and they surrounded our van. They were pissed off that we were taking pictures, because they thought we were going to turn them in to the owner of the land. For a few minutes they were not going to let us go. They had rocks, sling shots, and these rocket things pointed at us. It was a little scary. But Mirasole finally explained that we were just volunteers and they let us go.
OK, I feel like I just wrote a novel, so I´m off. Tomorrow I am going to hike to 14,500 ft., so wish me luck. I hope I make it! After the weekend hike, I´m on my way to New York. So, wish me luck getting home as well!
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