I live in Canada. I’m 56 years old. I have four children and I am the grandmother of four. I raised my children alone. Before going to jail, she worked as a teacher.
I went to prison for trying to smuggle 1 kg of cocaine into Australia. I’ve never done anything like this before, but my daughter was going to college and needed money for her career. So I did and they caught me at the Sydney airport. That was on September 4, 2011. I was in prison for three years.
While in prison, my daughter Emilie died in a car accident in Canada on May 22, 2012 while I was on remand at the Dillwynia Correctional Center in Sydney. Was 16 years old.
The day my daughter died, four officers entered the visiting room and told me to get up. They didn’t tell me why. I said, “What’s going on? I didn’t do anything. “They just grabbed me and took me to an office.
There was another officer there and he told me that my daughter had died. But the way he told me was really cruel. I fell to the ground. I don’t remember falling, but I do remember her telling me to get up and stop being a princess. I couldn’t get up. I threw myself under the desk. I just wanted to get away. They took me out and finally they took me out.
They let me talk to my oldest daughter for not even two minutes on the phone. They then put me in the secure cell and kept me there for three days. I didn’t eat, how could I eat when I just lost a child?
I was transferred to the mental health unit in Sydney and spent several weeks there. It’s horrible how they treat their mental health patients. Every time there was a shift change, he would go to the office and say, “There is a mistake. I shouldn’t be here. “Finally a lady listened to me.
When they sent me back to Dillwynia, they said there was no more space, so they had to send me to maximum security where they locked me up 24 hours. I still couldn’t work at that stage because I was too upset about my daughter’s death. After two weeks they moved me to medium needs and finally to low needs, where I had been before I left.
When I got there, they told me that all my things had been thrown away. They had emptied my cell and thrown everything away. All my letters, the photos of my children, everything was gone. Emilie’s letters … I will never get them back. They also dumped all my clothes.
Why did they do it? I didn’t do anything to them. It is true that I did not eat, but that was because I had just lost my daughter. They didn’t know what to do with me. The system doesn’t know how to deal with someone in the situation I was in. I even contacted the ombudsman when I returned home. I said, “I don’t want anything from you. What I want is for the system to change, so that if something like this happens again, no one will be treated like they treated me ”.
They sent me to see a psychiatrist while I was in prison, but she did nothing for me, she just let me sit and cry.
I got help from the Salvation Army chaplain. He came to see me and also thought it was terribly cruel how they treated me. When I heard that my daughter had died, she was there, and she hugged me while I cried and cried… I don’t remember, but she told me. We are still in contact to this day. She contacts me from time to time, especially the day my daughter died and her birthday. He talks to me and tries to give me strength because since I returned to Canada I have tried to commit suicide. It is still difficult to cope. Eight years have passed since Emilie died.
It’s really difficult when you get out of jail and live in another country because you don’t go through any rehab. They just bring you back to society. I was terrified. It took me weeks to be able to walk down the street.
When I returned to Canada, I stayed with one of my daughters initially because I had nothing left. My kids were great; they helped me a lot. I see them every day.
It was difficult to find work. I had no record, but I had been out of work for so long, so people looked at my CV and asked questions. Now I am back to school. I am taking a restaurant and hotel course. My plan is to get a job in a good restaurant once I finish the course.
My time in prison still haunts me. I live it every day. Sometimes I break down because the memory is too much. I have a psychiatrist here and I have learned that when I break down, I have to let it out.
I just wish the inmates had a way to sit in the prison and talk and express their feelings and that they weren’t just locked up. I wish they were heard. I think the problem is that agents are not properly trained for situations like mine: losing a child on the other side of the world. So they just buried me. That’s what they did, they just buried me. He was a quiet recluse, not a troublemaker. I just did my time.
• In Australia, the crisis support service Life line is 13 11 14 and support is also available in Beyond the blue at 1300 22 4636 and 1800 Respect (1800 737 732). In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans He can be contacted at 116 123 or send an email to [email protected] or [email protected] In the USA., National suicide prevention hotline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for help. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach a text line crisis counselor. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org
Corrective Services NSW was contacted about the criticisms made in this article, but declined to comment.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.