KITES / by Simone Jones

Inside, women send messages and request assistance from staff members through the kite system. The kite is another term for a letter, a note or reminder. The word has been highly popularized throughout prisons within the US and has even been adopted by prison officials; they’ve been known to refer certified paperwork, requests and forms as kites. Most importantly, though, kites are the word reflecting a source of communication between inmates and inmates and their loved ones in the free world. 

The letters travel from cell to cell through an intricate game of fishing, where the kite is attached to a string or piece of fabric then flung under the doors of one cell in the hopes that it makes it to another.

The correct cell.

The kite system is so respected that inmates will pass along the message to the correct person if they receive one not meant for them; these messages hold valuable information regarding developments within the prison population and at tentative words from prison family and friends.

Women sent away are still people. They are people craving a human connection. Women sent away have best friends, sisters and brothers. They will laugh at the funny, get angry at disrespect and nervous when uncomfortable. They are the fully realized idea of what it means to exist as a complex person, managing thoughts and opinions and protecting their egos and self-esteem the way the rest of us do. Moments of self-reflection and retrospection are expected and probably occur more often than the average person in the free world.

But what does self-reflection look like in the heart of a woman whose identity has been forcefully tucked away? How helpful is self reflection when persuaded into believing it’s possible to be reduced to a number? Persuaded by people who don’t know the depth only the mistakes of these women and decided they no longer deserved their names.Women sent away are women who find themselves physically and spiritually captive in a system that deems her incapable of education and rehabilitation. Yet, there are still success stories from feminine people both presently and formerly involved with the justice system. What is their origin story detailing how they came to the conclusion they were worthy of a second chance? Let the stories of the radical act of forgiving the self be told by the women living them, we want to know what began their change.

If you are related to or know a woman incarcerated who may want to share their story on the subject of mercy, forgiveness and healing, please email Protest.