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News from Dwight Womens' Prison

News From Dwight Womens' Prison

By L.F.

Geraldine Smith is only the third woman to be sentenced to death in the history of the State of Illinois... the first occurring in the 1800s and the second in the 1930s. There was almost no media coverage of Ms. Smith's sentencing. There was a small article in a local newspaper; all other coverage was on Spanish speaking television and radio.

Dwight "Correctional Center" is absolutely not equipped to imprison women sentenced to die. There is no Death Row; thus, Ms. Smith is simply locked in segregation, but is segregated from the others in segregation. No one is allowed to speak to her. Because she is a "novelty" in the institution, the officers do not mistreat her.., they are more curious than anything. But why the media blackout? And why Geraldine Smith? So many women are here after murder convictions, murders that they committed with their very own hands. Ms. Smith is convicted of hiring a man to murder the wife of her lover (and her child's father). The man who actually committed the murder received "natural life in prison." If women who have murdered three or four people with their own hands have not been sentenced to death, why is Ms. Smith so sentenced? Perhaps this is not the most logical argument as to why she should receive a new sentencing hearing, but I just can't keep from feeling that she is being used as an "example" of sorts, and I don't understand why the media isn't interested in her. As is probably needless to say, she is African-American, and she is the 42-year-old mother of a seven-year old.

On other subjects, sexism is exhibited here mainly by treating the women like children, in ways that they'd never treat men. The warden is a woman, but in the institution there is no female "touch" at all. Most of the female employees here are butch lesbians doing a very poor job of imitating a poor excuse for a man. In turn, a lot of the inmates here begin to act the same way, and the result is that the so-called "studs" are those to whom the administration most relates. It's sad. This place is dangerous to a human beings' mental health.

Racism is exhibited in the typical ways... little or no punishment if you're white and segregation if you're non-white for the same "offense." Among the inmates there's little overt racial tension, and there are many inter-racial "couples." The women are basically passive about everything, and tensions - when they boil to surface - manifest in actions against one's own self... attempted suicides. Etc.

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