When you think of people in prison for life, does your compassion meter turn up or down? Do you think, “They deserve to be there,” or do you think, “It must be hard to be a lifer living day in and day out without freedom.”
Over the years, I’ve heard many different opinions on this subject, but I’ve never heard the opinion of an actual person who is in prison for life who feels as though they have really changed. Have you?
The following TED talk is done by 9 women who are singing about their life in prison.
The women are from the Muncy state prison. They are trying to get their point of view across through song, and it is quite intense to really think about where they have been, where they are now, and where they are going.
Will I see my family or die alone?
This is not my home.
Some powerful thoughts.
If you didn’t watch the video, the women have been incarcerated 27, 29, 30, 37, 39 (and 1/2), and 40 years. The last woman mentioned that she has been in prison for 37 years since she was 14 years. That year, I was also born.
Under the video on the TED talk, a person who claims they wrote the song said the following:
Many of the Lifers at Muncy (including some in the video) killed no one, or killed an abusive spouse while fearing for their lives. Others were made the fall guy by more sophisticated associates who turned deals with a DA. Many committed murder under the influence of drugs, with no intent to kill. – Source
What I Thought Directly After Watching The Video
This video made me think about a few things:
- How grateful I am not to be in that situation or have a family member who is.
- How grateful I am for my daily freedom to do what I want, go where I want, and be who I want to be.
- How someone at 14 years of age can be put away for life – and did she really deserve to be?
- How much more there is that we don’t know about why they are there and what they believe.
- Whether or not they are ever going to experience freedom despite the fact that they believe they deserve to.
What Did These Women Do?
I also wondered what these women did to end up in prison, as I’m sure you did. In the comment section under the video I found someone who did the digging for us, and to the best of my knowledge, the women are the women in the stories.
The woman singing the main part is Brenda Watkins (convicted at 26) and she was convicted of slaying a 70-year-old man in what was described as ‘particularly grisly’. You can read about it here.
The woman with the scarf on her head is Thelma Nichols (convicted at 25) and she killed a woman to get money for her drug habit (she stole $43). She says that she had taken cocaine and was high at the time. But, it seems she was also on probation for the slaying of a relative as well. You can read about it here.
The woman who did the introduction is Danielle Hadley (convicted at 23) for setting a man up for murder. She didn’t actually murder him, but she did hit him over the head and handcuff his hands behind his back before he was strangled and then stabbed in the throat by two other people. Read about it here.
The lady in the back row with the big eyes is Theresa Battles (convicted at 26) for a murder that her boyfriend committed (but she was present) and then stealing from a home. Read her story here.
No information on Debra Brown, the woman with the glasses, could be found.
The woman who had a little bit of a speech impairment is Joanne Butler, and she killed a 19-year-old women. You can read that here.
The lady with the canes is Diane Hamill Metzger (convicted at 19) who was convicted for the planning of the murder and the removal of the body of her husband’s (ex) wife and mother of his 4 children. You can read about it here
The second last woman to talk is Lena Brown (convicted at 29) for stabbing a middle-aged white man in his car. You can find a little on that here.
And the last woman was Trina Garnett (convicted at 14) for setting a fire that caused two deaths. The following video tells her story.
How I Felt After Finding Out Their Crimes
I am still very thankful that I am not in their situation, and obviously I still don’t know the whole situation. But, it seems that some of the crimes were pretty vicious, and it made me question my whole thought process after I was moved by the TED talk.
It’s interesting how we are swayed from one side to another depending on who is talking, what their story is, and what we believe. Some people are very passionate about this TED talk and feel very bad for these women, whereas others believe that most of these women deserve to be in prison for the rest of their lives.
As far as Trina Garnett goes, I felt bad for her in the video AND when I heard her story, and I can’t imagine what she thinks about as she goes to sleep at night.
In the end, I don’t really know how I feel about them and what they are going through. I can see all sides of the story, and it’s hard to say what is right and what is wrong in some cases.