Prison wives (or girlfriends, baby mamas, spouses etc.) are a marginalised group of women that are more often than not misunderstood by society. They are constantly viewed as weak women with low self esteem and a lack of self worth. Prison wives are looked down upon and harshly judged for crimes that they did not commit.
Prison wives are also among some of the most loving, caring, forgiving and empathetic people on this planet. Many of these women have stayed loyal to their significant others through long, gruelling court proceedings, timely sentences and the fear of the unknown. They have lost friends, been alienated by family and pushed to the side by society because they choose to continue to love someone who committed a crime. Prison wives are often accused of smuggling contraband or committing crimes themselves to support their incarcerated loved ones. The rigorous routine or ritual, as some call it, that many women go through just to visit their loved one is time consuming, expensive and frustrating.
The unforgiving ion scanner turns out more false positive‘s than a dollar store pregnancy test. Wives and children are turned away from visiting after eight hour drives because a machine that was only designed to detect one type of drug is accusing them of handling morphine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and other opiates. Women are harassed or denied entry because the underwire in their bra hits on the metal detector or their prescribed medication shows up as something it is not. Prison wives are not only independent women often navigating through this journey alone they are also single mothers, they are nurses, teachers, social workers, foster parents, step parents and they’re working two or three jobs to provide for their families and to send money just to talk to their incarcerated loved one. They have second phone lines, they forward their calls, they have two phone bills, and they travel near and far. They understand a system that is so neglected and so misunderstood by society and they watch their loved ones be treated as less than human and suffer with them.
Prison wives are lawyers, social workers, researchers, counsellors and advocates. They are scholars of the correctional system out of pure necessity. If your partner is incarcerated you become an expert in areas that other people have no idea about and no interest in. Prison wives are the advocates for prison reform and restorative justice. There is no one that wants to see a criminal be rehabilitated more than that persons spouse. Prison wives are a largely hidden minority but their willingness to organize, overcome and support each other are one of the strongest acts of resistance. Prison wives truly embody the excerpt “only God can judge me” because they live their life every single day being judged by strangers, friends, family, acquaintances and the gruesome and brutal system that is the Correctional Services of Canada. In the face of adversity these women have stayed- or learned to be strong.
We will continue to demand our voices be heard, and educate society about this broken justice system.