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My lawyer is telling me not to "complain"

note from Jane: In this letter, Elisabeth expresses her frustration with the advice she receives from her lawyer and the detention center's social work: not to "complain" about any of the abuses or mistreatments because it could harm her case or cause her to be transferred to a woman's prison. This is especially frustrating because at the same time, Elisabeth's lawyer told her that she would have to spend at least another three months in detention while awaiting the decision on her appeal. It turns out to be much longer than three months, as of November, she is still waiting.


May 10, 2020


Hi, Juanita, I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health.


I am sad because my lawyer told me that it will be three months or more before they give me a decision. I have faith in God that this court hearing will be the one that grants me my freedom. If they don't give me a bond on that day, I can't take being imprisoned any longer. I asked my lawyer to tell me--they will for sure give me a bond, and she didn't answer. She just told me that at my first hearing, I didn't do a good job of explaining my relationship to my uncle, but I told the judge what she told me to tell the judge. I just do not understand what has happened. My lawyer also told me that I needed to conduct myself well while inside and that I should not complain about what is happening to me here, that it just makes the situation worse. She said they could use my complaints against me. I told her, I'm tired of having to put up with all of this, everything that the other women and the officials do. I cannot defend myself when the officials get out their books and take note of my behavior, even when I haven't done anything. For them, I'm the bad one. I told my lawyer, it's not right to have to put up with all the bullying and discrimination. My lawyer said, I'm jut asking that you conduct yourself well because I don't want them to transfer you to a women's prison, where it would be worse than here. You're fine here, she said. I said what? When I turn the right cheek for them to slap, I then need to also turn my left cheek so that they can keep hitting me. My lawyer got angry when I said that and said if you don't want me to continue with your case, tell me so, and I will ask for your deportation. That scared me, and I said, I cannot return to my country, I fear for my life there. She said, well, then conduct yourself well. I said OK, I will just stay in my bed, drawing, coloring, reading, listening to music.


All of this happened by telephone, and then she passed me to the social worker. She also told me that my lawyer is worried that I am complaining too much, and that could affect my chances in court. She said the judge could use this against me. I wanted to tell her that if the judge brings this up, I will defend myself, and I will tell the judge everything that has happened to me here. I have witnesses, and they have seen how I have been bullied and discriminated against. I will tell the judge how I have been treated like a criminal even if I am not supposed to say this in court.


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