Release of a Female Offender
Travails of a Released Prisoner
Spending seven years in prison, while she found maturity and discovered life’s purpose, she however lost her family and kids.
She regained her freedom, but her family was nowhere.
As a final note as in a song, she was released, only to realize that liberation was somewhere between her dreams and delusions. She sang her years away, believing that she only lost her timing and for a time in the free community, survived out of tune. Her expression could not be heard and was even used against her but in prison, it was her voice that harmonized dull moments. She was one of the singers in the prison band.
She was our ordinary neighbour, quick to give succour, an ordinary housekeeper, a mother, a sister. She is Mercy, a name that connotes pity, compassion, kindness yet her life never went through any leniency at all. She never resisted the charges, pleaded guilty and went through the process of the criminal justice administration. Whatever resources she had, she knew it would be better for her family to use. She would rather go through in silence, deteriorate, sacrifice and die in obscurity. The cruelty of incarceration though never created a dent on her hopes. She knew that once the pain subsides, she eventually could rejoin her loved ones.
Once upon a time, she was a bubbly 30 year old wife assisting her husband sustain a struggling extended family until she got herself in the middle of a transaction she never knew from the start but proceeded nonetheless since it was making money for her husband. She knew her husband was dealing on something illegal but what the heck, the revenues were enough to send their kids to school and feed their old folks. When the authorities came to arrest her husband, she immediately took the cudgels for him and mounted a spirited defence. She was instead impleaded in a offense for violating drug laws and was charged accordingly. She admitted to the crime without understanding fully its implications. She wanted everything to end. Her family must be isolated and it was incumbent on her posture to bear the brunt. She loved her husband and she knew that he will carry on in maintaining stability of their domestic life.
When the courts promulgated the penalty, Mercy was immediately sent to the women’s penitentiary to serve time for violating the law. Years upon years, she was never visited, neither has she received any letter at all. She was alone in a crowd. She never even mingled with her peers anticipating that she would only be a prey to lesbian wiles. She had forgotten her gender, her being a daughter, mother and housewife. She was forlorn and solitary and the only company she keeps was the thought that one day, she will be with her family, especially her children.
She was completely withdrawn from the crowded facility until she was included in the list of those to be transferred to a newly organized female corrective facility in Mindanao. There she knew that only a few laps separate her from her community of orientation. That only a few struggling years were enough to repay what she had done. That one day, she will be moving towards a reunion with her family. That day would come. That day would come… though… except that she saw only a shell of her community, the hollow look of her children and the stark reality that her husband had abandoned them years before and presently in jail.
Time stood still for her. In Mindanao prison, she was a dutiful inmate, an industrious trainee of the banana plantation program, a joint program of Davao Penal Colony and Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation. She was taught work ethic, an experience she was grateful for. Her immersion in work has promoted faith and confidence in her, a disciplined mind and a hallmark of a responsible person, as it indicated maturity and dependability. She knew that having earned it, she would be good pillar of her family. But it was never applied at all after seeing the condition of her family. She would have suffered a breakdown and could fall to pieces. But this time she must, single handedly, challenge the gods of fortune to bring her the goods to sustain a dying relation. Almost a decade of incarceration had left her almost defenceless in her quest for relevance. Praying was her last recourse.
As she found her bearings to face the world, she went about in search of a job. She must sustain whatever has been left. She must support her dying parents, regale hope to a traumatized child, her eldest, and carry on , as in espousing, a wish to save her remaining children.
In her application for a menial job in one plantation farm, she was asked to submit her birth certificate, a means to identify her, along with clearances of her community and the local police unit. She was however a native, a tribal minority, whose parentage has never heard of registration niceties. She came out of the world without records at all. She, like her tribe, was non-entities in a kinship outside of civilization. Her elementary records where her name appears including those on court dockets were the only remaining documents she could show. And it would only bring derogatory remarks, censure and worst, condemnation. Prison, with all its pains and sorrow, taught her the true path, the righteous course and she would never compromise her life again against that which brought her agony and suffering. She could not abandon her loved ones on the flimsy belief of struggling for them. She must find work. She must have a livelihood, a good and fair one, for them.
She returned to the only place she knew that would understand her plight. It is not, however in her community of orientation for she would only be a suspect, an object of mistrust. But in prison, where she was a subject of triumph, coming out in one piece and getting released for good measure. She went to see the prison superintendent and was recommended to get a chance to be employed, this time as a civilian, in Tadeco.
Thereupon, her life began to see the brighter side.