A sister describes her experience taking care of her incarcerated brother’s teenage son, and her own young child, while only 24 years old. Years later the experience of being separated and divided by the high-cost of prison phone calls still impacts their family.
Audio Submission by, Chrisie Wacoma
Amended Transcription of Audio:
My name is Christie Wacoma (sp) and I wanted to share my story. My brother was in prison for 8 years, and during that time I was a single parent on assistance and was unable to be able to have him call me on a regular basis.
When he went into prison our parents were alive, but shortly thereafter they individually died of different health problems, and I was also the caretaker for his son. I was unable to let him know what was going on and as a result he really, just due to his circumstances, suffered great depression based on the fact that he had no contact with his family on a consistent basis. We were able to go visit at times but because it was several miles away from our home, and also we didn’t have reliable transportation, it was a huge hardship to be able to go visit him on a regular basis.
It greatly impacted our family. I believe that, it’s been many years since he’s been out of prison, but I feel like our relationships all have suffered as result of just not being able to be in contact on a regular basis. I think the thing about the astronomical charges of the phone calls is, I don’t think even now as I’m a business owner and married with more support would be able to afford the amount that it would cost to be in contact with a family member or a friend that was in prison.
I think it’s ridiculously unfair to not only just over charge them, over charge families that typically are already in financial binds. And so, I just would strongly encourage those that have the ability to make change to listen to these stories and understand the heart of what was going on cause at the time I was 24 years old I had a 4 year old child, and then I was taking care of a teenager who wasn’t mine, and being on food stamps and public assistance, in Section-8 housing, and going to school fulltime, working fulltime, trying to take care of my family, and not have the ability to be in contact with my own family member because he was in prison. I think that that sounds like double punishment.
So thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my story.
Thank you. Bye.