The Lady Lifers

Many thanks to Judy for sharing this TEDx video with me. The video shares an original song composed and sung by women serving life sentences, without the possibility of parole, in Muncy State Prison in Pennsylvania.

More information about "The Lady Lifers" can be found here.

We really need to have a conversation in this country about if life without parole is cruel and unusual treatment. I think it is.

Humans were created by God to be eschatological beings.

Hope is as essential to us as water, bread and air.

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9 thoughts on “The Lady Lifers”

  1. More and more I'm convinced its because of the Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement. If I think people deserve to be in hell then I have no problem with them spending their lives without the possibility of redemption.

  2. The conversation would be a deep, moving one from all sides. While my heart agrees with you, there are those who are serving life who will always be too ill to live on the outside. Of course, that would certainly lead the discussion toward other options that are protective and more humane. That aside, I pray that the next time I feel a weight that I see no ending to, I am able to sing like these dear children of God.

  3. I guess Arminian theology ought to join the line up, too, Nimblewill (I say that as a signed-up Methodist). If my actions are an expression of my unfettered free-will, I deserve to be treated the same regardless of my genes or traumatic early experiences.

  4. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peter, James, and Paul--And Rahab, Ruth, and the Woman at the Well, we too often forget--is revealed from the first to last chapters of Scripture to be just and merciful at the same time.

    Human law, especially as written and carried out in the United States of America: not so much. And people who have not been involved in the system, or had close family caught up in it, often do not appreciate just how un-just it is from beginning to end.

    1. Laws that are specifically written to affect certain populations and not others.
    2. Policing that treats populations differently, i.e., some populations are never even confronted by the police, while others are, and are disproportionately arrested. (At least almost everyone understands this now, whether they see it as a problem or not, and some still don't.)
    3. Differential charging of populations by a totally politicized system of district and federal attorneys.
    4. Judges that sentence populations differently based on prejudice.
    5. Laws that take sentencing discretion away from judges.
    6. The rise of the prison-industrial complex.

    People need to be told about or reminded about the true "American Exceptionalism: the United States of America has more people in prison and jail than any other country on the planet based on raw numbers, and at the same time puts more of its people in prison and jail per capita--by far--than any other nation on earth. And the percentage of blacks in jail, prison, and parole based on their overall numbers in the country is astronomical.

    Which state incarcerates black males at the highest rate in the country? You might expect that to be Texas or Louisiana, but you would be wrong. Its Wisconsin.

    Most readers of this blog know some of this because of Richard's postings about the great and important work he does at the French Robertson Unit of the Texas prison system. If you want to know more about the prison-industrial complex, a quick search on Wikipedia will introduce you to the basics. A great book everyone should read is Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.

    There are some truly bad people out there, however they became that way, and they should not be moving freely among us. I say that as someone who spent two years in prison and several more years on "extended supervision," and has gotten to know a lot of ex-offenders through work with a non-profit that tries to help people get back on the righteous path.

    Yes, there is a small percentage of convicted--and un-convicted felons too--that will never change because they don't want to. But in my experience, that is a small percentage. And some of the ones who do fail to stay on the righteous path fail because they did not have the right people to walk with after they got out of jail or prison. The work that people like Richard does in jails and prisons is so important in laying the groundwork for successful change when men and women do get out, which the vast majority of them will get out one day.

    Given everything laid out above, can we trust that these women, and other men and women like them that have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, have been justly sentenced?

    I don't think so.

    Pray for them and others, and do what you can to comfort them--jail and prison ministry, and ministry to the families of the incarcerated--but also do what you can through the political system to make our legal system better reflect the justness and mercy of God. Long ago Micah reminded us that is precisely what that God we say we believe in wants of us.

  5. As a purely tactical matter, politically, I'm not sure we should press to get rid of life-without-parole until we've won the death penalty argument and have ripped execution out of the American experience by its roots. At the moment, life-without-parole is the only bone we can throw to those who still favor the death penalty as compensation for giving it up.

  6. I read this post last week and have been thinking about your thoughts on hope. I absolutely love what you said. It made me think about life sentences in a way I hadn't before. However, I didn't have time to watch the video when I read the post last week. I went back tonight and watched it as I was reminded of this post by a friend's research paper I read. So moving! Looking into each of their eyes made me wish there wasn't a screen between us, and that I could sit down and hear their stories. We all have a story. Over Christmas Break I watched "Orange Is The New Black" on Netflix. A show with some questionable content, I'll admit, but I love the heart of it. I think what I love most is getting to see flashbacks from the lives of each woman in the Correctional Facility. There are so many things I could say about what I took away from watching that show, but mostly it just created a deeper sense of compassion for those whose stories I cannot imagine living through, or for those I cannot hear, but must trust are there. The prison system reflected in the show is incredibly broken, and it makes me want to further explore the system in place today. Mostly, my heart has been moved and shaped regarding the whole situation in general. I wanted to thank you for what you do on a weekly basis to spread hope, love, and friendship in a place that few may attempt to. Keep doing that. It matters. Thanks for sharing this post, and always provoking much thought!

  7. What a beautiful song, and what a an amazing beautiful lead singer. i wish i could contact them! Credit to the writer and composer. May God bless them and strengthen them. Locking people for so many years is not the solution. The higher you place the punishment the more crimes will be commited. The lesser years you place on punishment the better for both the community and government. Atleast here in the Netehrlands the crime rate is very low. It just sickens me that grace and pardon cannot be given to these women. Hold strong and let your light shine.

  8. You can write to them! All mail is addressed to PO BOX 180 Muncy, PA 17756. Include the woman's name and her prison id number. Here is Naomi Blount OO7053, she wrote the music. Danielle Hadley OO8494, Theresa Battles OO8309. For the others go to PA Inmate Locator, and type in their names to get their id number. Some of the other women are Trina Garnett, Diane Metzger, Brenda Watkins (the lead singer).

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