Meaningful Experiences with People in Prison

December 20th, 2011 by admin

What follows is the last of the reflections shared by Sojourners at our Prison Ministry Social Justice worship service in the fall.

#1- When it was found out that I was pregnant they transferred me to the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. I was no longer allowed to work (due to DOC’s fear of the pending lawsuit and anything else happening to me) which meant that I was unable to buy food. Being pregnant and not having food is a scary and painful situation to find oneself in. It had been about six years since I resided at this facility. I didn’t know any of the other women. And was apprehensive due to everything that was going on and all of the horrible things that were being said. So, I just tried to ignore our hunger. Well, eventually, I met a group of women that were beyond wonderful. They were kind and supportive and genuinely interested in mine and Desiree’s well being. So, one canteen day, they went (without my knowledge) cell door to cell door asking people for food. They then brought me a canteen bag full of food and a large trash bag full of food. Free of charge and no strings attached. They just wanted me to be able to eat. And I ate off of that gift for about two months.

#2- I knew of Lynn Litchfield (Chaplain Litchfield) back in 1999 when FCCW first opened. I didn’t see her again until the end of 2005. I was terrified of the position that I was in. And finally needed someone to talk to. I asked to see her. When I walked into her office and sat down I asked her if she remembered me or knew who I was. She said “no.” She told me that she didn’t watch tv or read the newspaper. Needless to say, I was so grateful for that. I spent five months speaking with her and going to church. She was the one that introduced me to Karen and Jeanine, the village, and Sojourners. Through one of most uncertain, scary, and painful times in my life she became my best friend. She was in the operating room with me when Desiree was born.(Desiree calls her “Aunt Lynn.”) And that is something that neither one of us will ever forget. She was always so genuinely caring, sincere, honest, and just amazing.

#3- This last story doesn’t really involve any one particular person or event. It is just an overall memory… When I first went to prison I was scared that it would be like the prisons that you see on tv. It’s not really that way at all. Sure there are mean people. But, for the most part its just people like you and me. One thing that I learned while in there was how to relate and really feel what the next person is going through. To empathize and humanize. These women are someones’ daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, best friend, and mother. There were numerous nights when the roommate that I had at the time and I would stay up all night just talking and healing. Just trying to figure things out, move on, and make a plan to keep ourselves from ever coming back.There were many times when the spades game gave way to someone’s loneliness and heartbreak. We would just stop what we were doing and be there for that friend. For as long as they needed. That was one nice thing about being in there…there was no telephone ringing, no errands to run, no urgency in anything.We had the time to just listen.I can honestly say that I have met and lived with some of the absolute best women in the world behind bars. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss and think about those friends that I left almost five years ago.

Thank you for letting me share some of these with you.

Sheron Sinclair