Ten years since Ixcotel Penitentiary

October 6th marked the ten year anniversary of the day I went into prison in Ixcotel, Oaxaca: innocent and ignorant (then) of the (then) limitations of the Mexican legal system.

I have since learned more than I ever needed to know about the system. But the Mexican legal system is in the throes of great change (since 2008) — where actual oral trials are being introduced (instead of the archival system of sewn-together and often-false testimonies that I witnessed in my own case). Reason to hope that fewer innocents are incarcerated?

I have a manuscript built around the women I met while inside Ixcotel — that I will self-publish to coincide with our November 9th release date. Stay tuned. For an excerpt, meet Concha here.

Ten years seems like forever ago. And the 33 days I spent “inside” were few compared to the time other innocent women languished, women who lacked the international support I had. Still… even one day in prison leaves an indelible mark. I do not forget Concha who killed a rat with her foot, Natalia who kept a jar of answers to unasked questions, Soraya who taught the women crochet and dignity…

Many women were as innocent as I. Others not so much. We all coincided in trusting there was a way out.

I don’t know if some of the women are still in. I will let them out of my hands anyway — the manuscript will bring them beyond the walls of Ixcotel and of my memory. At least you can know my version of them… and the wealth they left with me.


Illustration above is “Retablo de Gracias” by John Barbato, fellow prison mate incarcerated at the same time. See more of John’s work at: http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/j/johnbarbato/





2 comments on “Ten years since Ixcotel Penitentiary”

  1. I read the excerpt. Wonderful. I’m sorry you went through this, but you have written a beautiful tribute to these women. Told a story–so well–that needed to be told. I can’t wait to read the whole book.

  2. Thanks, Avra. I have sat with this book for much too long. It is time to get it out there and I appreciate you taking the time to read “Concha.”

    BTW — I am sending the news of your great announcement to a friend of mine who teaches English in Mexico — she is always looking for new material for her students…

    Gracias, linda.

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