Things That Matter

A Quinceañera Is One Of The Most Special Celebrations So This Mexican Prison Organized One So Moms Didn’t Miss Out

One of the most emotionally taxing things for mothers and fathers that are incarcerated is missing their sons’ and daughters’ special moments. Graduations, first steps, heartbreaks, proms, soccer games and quinces: all of these are events that inmates generally experience behind bars through photos or tear-stained letters. All sense of normalcy vanishes when someone steps into a prison, and isolation can kick in and affect mental health. Depression and anxiety are common ailments in correctional facilities. 

So a recent initiative in a Mexican prison changed the lives of mothers whose daughters were about to have their quinces. This initiative helped strengthen family ties (which are precariously held when a loved one is serving a sentence) and surely lifted the spirits of mothers whose mistakes have also taken a toll on their loved ones. All in all, a great way to bridge reality inside and outside the prison. 

The prison of Santa Martha became a dance hall for an unforgettable quince.

Credit: InfoBae

Mexico City authorities and the NGO Alas de Amor (Wings of Love) organized a XV dance for daughters’ of female inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison. There was a thanksgiving Catholic mass followed by a sit-down meal for families. We hope this is not the last time this event is organized and that correctional facilities elsewhere follow this example. 

Plenty of people pitched in so the young women could have a day to remember.

Flower shops from the world-famous Mercado de Jamaica donated the floral arrangements. Dancers from the studio Ballet Nuevo México acted as chambelanes for the traditional waltz. Before travelling to the prison, the festejadas gor their photo taken in front of the Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento.

As EN24 reports: “This is the third year that this celebration takes place, and on this occasion merchants from La Lagunilla and the Tepito neighborhood, donated the dresses, shoes and accessories for the celebration.”

There is solidarity among el pueblo mexicano! After the party, they were taken around the city on one of Mexico City’s tourist buses. The progressive Mexico City government will likely promote this kind of events in the remaining five years of the current administration, led my Claudia Sheinbaum. 

And just look at that cake! Mordida, mordida, mordida!

With plenty of social stigma associated with inmates and their families, this was a great opportunity to make these women feel appreciated and for them to be able to regain their dignity, which surely has been manhandled during their journey through the judicial bureaucracy. After all, the prison system is supposed to work as an institution through which those who have made the wrong choices in life can get a second chance, but if prisons are hell on Earth then betterment can be tricky to say the least. 

It was a dreamy event in which mothers and daughters tightened their bond.

Teenage years are troubling and challenging for any young woman, and even more so if their mother is behind bars. One of the purposes of this initiative was to make sure that the emotional struggles of adolescence are lessened at least a little bit. Each young woman was allowed to invite ten external guests and five female inmates. It was a logistical challenge but for the third year in a row the outside world moved into the prison to provide a sense of normalcy to the inmates.  

And before you get all judgmental and say “well, criminals deserve what they got” you gotta know a little bit about the Mexican judicial system.

Credit: COHA

The Mexican judicial system is deeply flawed due to corrupt processes and to the fact that rather than someone being presumed innocent when they are arrested, they are presumed guilty and spend their time behind bars until their cases are resolved. Now, there is a decades-long bottleneck in the court system, which means that many of the inmates could potentially be innocent or have a waiting period behind bars that can end up being actually longer than the maximum sentence for the crime they were initially arrested for.

Added to this, Mexican jails are infamous for overpopulation, drug use, abusive guards and corruption. So before you get on your high horse give the inmates a break, shall we? Things are of course more complicated for female inmates as they are often abandoned to their own devices by associates whose modus operandi is to dispose of women in an abusive manner. The Mexican judicial system is also tough on women, as there is a social stigma that affects those who are arrested while being mothers. They are judged as malas madres and treated in a tough and sometimes cruel way by judges and authorities. 

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