Glad for prison experience

A group of incarcerated mothers at Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre talk about having to spend Mother’s Day without their children.
A group of incarcerated mothers at Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre talk about having to spend Mother’s Day without their children.

KINGSTON – Canadian national Christine Peers is a long way from home. The mother of three is serving time in Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre in St Catherine and had to spend Mother’s Day away from her children.

As difficult as it has been however, she says the experience has changed her for the better.

“This has taught me a big lesson and I’m not ashamed. I don’t regret it and I’m really happy that it happened,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

She said the stories shared by the juveniles in the facility have moved her and have opened her eyes.

“They have come from really bad situations and they all just want something of you and if you give one, you have to give to 10 more and you’re only one person. I have three, but even though they’re not with me, I know they are being loved right now and my heart goes out to them,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

The juveniles’ stories hit home with Peers because prior to coming to Jamaica, she was in the midst of a custody battle and since her incarceration, they have become wards of the State. The more she talked about it, the more she cried.

“If I hadn’t had this experience I probably would have just left home with my same… I would have never changed. It’s opened my eyes to what I was doing, my destruction in my own life, the pattern, this circle I was creating. They say that life is a circle, you either keeping on going in that circle or you break it and you go on a different direction in life,” she said.

Asked what that cycle was, Peers said “drugs”.

“I truly believe that because I was using is why I’m here,” she said. “Somebody planted drugs in my suitcase and it was God’s way of showing me that this is the way your life is going, look what you are doing to yourself. And either I can come out of here and continue being a drug addict or I can go home and change my life and get those kids back, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Peers and a friend, who is also behind bars with her, came to Jamaica on vacation and ended up in Fort Augusta. They are serving two years and should be released either in October or next February.

“The lawyer said take some time, go rest your nerves and go on vacation. When you come back we’ll figure out what to do from where we are,” she said, explaining the reason she came on vacation. (But) because I was in custody here, they made them wardens of the state. So I had my heart ripped out of my chest; but I’ve spoken to the lawyer and, a couple of days ago, she told me that we are gonna go back to court and fight because what they did was wrong,” she said.

“I didn’t abuse my children, I didn’t neglect them… Government took them in and I always care for them first and the drug habit was second, but I never should have had a drug habit. It was so hidden that they didn’t even know until they started doing drug tests here. I had it all figured out, nobody knew. So this Mother’s Day for me…,” she said her words trailing off, her eyes springing fresh tears.

“I believe that next year Mother’s Day will be the happiest day of my life again,” she said. (Observer)

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