Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Cruelest Cut

For Elizabeth and Cassie the cruelest aspect of this entire ordeal has been the loss of contact with their children, and the inability to be a mother to their children. Liz lost custody of her son to his father when she went to prison in 1997, shortly before the boy's second birthday. The father is the same man who demanded Liz have an abortion when she first found out she was pregnant, and left her when she refused. The father has not allowed Liz' son to have any contact with his mother since she has been incarcerated. Liz continues to send letters, birthday and Christmas cards but gets no response, and has no idea if her son, who is now 12 actually receives her correspondence. Having her son think that she is a monster has been the most difficult thing for Liz to deal with through all of this.

Cassie has two children - Michael, and his sister Ashley who is a year younger. They were 8 and 7 when Cassie first went to prison. Because of the nature of the offenses she was convicted of, Cassie is not allowed physical contact with anyone under the age of 16. Due to an administrative error her children were inadvertently given a contact visit shortly after she arrived at Mountain View. Cassie sent me a photograph taken during that visit. Since that time, all visits with her children have taken place behind plate glass while talking through a telephone receiver monitored by prison staff.

Last month Michael turned 16 and on December 1st was able to have a contact visit with his mother for the first time in 8 years . It was something Cassie had talked about and looked forward to for a long time. She wrote me a letter the next day describing the visit.

"...I wanted to write you to let you know that after so many years I had my visit with my son. I was able to touch him and look into his eyes, and held his hand. For two hours I felt like I was complete. Life - I had so much life. It was emotional. I cried because I was happy and I cried because I was sad, I even cried because I was angry. I could see the pain in my boy's eyes when we talked about my chances of not making my first parole, and it hurt me so deeply and the pain he holds due to those lies made me so mad. He struggles cuz' he wants me home...."