Christmas a difficult time for incarcerated woman

A woman who will be incarcerated for Christmas at the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women said spending the holiday season behind bars will be very difficult for her and her fellow inmates.

The woman, who is the mother of two children, aged 12 and 14, had been sentenced in October to nine months in prison for credit card fraud. CBC has agreed to withhold her identity.

This has been her first time in prison, and the first time she won't be with her children for Christmas.

"I'm lonely. I'm missing putting up the Christmas decorations. I'm missing baking Christmas cookies with my daughter."

The woman said she has been coping by getting involved with activities and programs at the correctional centre, such as knitting with the pastoral care group, preparing some costumes and decorations for Clarenville's Christmas parade, and helping write 120 Christmas cards with personal messages to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are stationed abroad.

She said being able to help others at this time of year has brought her some comfort.

"When we're in here, we don't feel good about ourselves because we've disappointed our families, we've disappointed ourselves," she said.

"And when you're able to do something, it's just such joy."

The woman said she talks with her children several times each week, and they write back and forth regularly, but she said her children have not said much about her incarceration.

She added that her children will still be able to have a good Christmas with their father and other relatives.

The Salvation Army has also been able to help her and other incarcerated women by making sure that their children will get Christmas gifts from them.

She said besides her children, she will miss family suppers and Christmas midnight mass the most.

The woman vowed that she will never again make the mistakes that put her behind bars this Christmas.

She said on Christmas Day, she will attend mass at the corrections centre, and think of her children.

"I'll be thinking about them and I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of crying," said the woman.

"It's going to be a hard day."

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