Today will forever be known to me as your “gotcha day.” It’s the day the system got you and changed the course of our family forever. No more family trips or late night runs to McDonald’s. Instead, as your mom, I learned fast how to negotiate the systems that would allow me to talk with you, write to you, see you, speak to you, send you money and negotiate for your future.

As parents, we never raise our kids to be incarcerated. I did such a terrible job of preparing you for this experience. All those years of homeschooling and arts projects don’t help now. Maybe the summer camps on survival skills serve you to be resourceful with what you have. As a parent of incarcerated young person, it’s impossible not to fault ourselves at some level. What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I find more help? In my case, I see glimmers of choices that led to the unimaginable. But mostly, I am horrified at the way the system failed you and me especially as a single mother looking for help. I exhausted every community service available from primary care physician to local emergency services. Every step of the way we were told there wasn’t help due to the pandemic. I wonder how many people were incarcerated during the pandemic related to not finding the services they needed? Who is measuring those casualties?

On this anniversary of your gotcha day I am not the person I was those years ago. I’ve got more gray hair and a different outlook on the world. The rose-colored glasses have long been discarded, and in their place is a discouraged perspective on how we treat the ones we lock up, and a giant disappointment in Vermont as the state I chose to raise my children. We can do so much better.

— Jen Canfield

One Comment

  1. Leslie Thorsen March 22, 2023 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    And how our collective mother’s hearts beat for you, and cry for you. We are also proud of you, to stare this awful truth and tragedy in the face and say, you are not going to break us. We may be bruised, we may stumble, but we do not give up. Every new morning is a chance to be the change, do the brave, make the call, have the broad shoulders, scream in outrage. When this nightmare ends for you and A, a new chapter, a scary chapter shall also begin. But we walk this path with you, we scream for change now so the road is better when those inside get to walk there. You have shown such beautiful bravery, and back in your face-ness. We will bring down the system, as they kick and scream, but make no mistake, these hostages they take will help us, help all. If I were to head out into battle, your quiet, intelligent and willful way would be the woman I want in my posse!!!! I know you will hang strong, and never let them see you cry!!xoxoxoxo

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