Julia may win the award for having come the farthest distance to visit Taller de José; she currently lives in Puerto Rico. But when Julia heard that her son had been incarcerated in Chicago, she knew that she needed to visit and see what she could do to help. When Julia first met with her compañera, she was very concerned about whether or not she’d be able to visit her son while she was here in the United States, and she had a lot of questions about the process of the criminal justice system. Her compañera was able to accompany Julia to the criminal courthouse to sit with her through her son’s hearing and helped Julia speak with the public defender. Even though it became clear that Julia’s son would likely be convicted, Julia felt such relief after speaking with the public defender because she finally had her questions answered and understood the situation better.
Shortly before Julia was scheduled to return to Puerto Rico, her son was transferred to a long-term residential facility for those with mental illness (for a story about Cook County Jail and mental health, see this article from The Atlantic). Julia returned to her compañera for assistance in contacting the facility and finding out more about her son’s care. With her compañera translating, Julia was able to communicate with the staff at the facility and arranged a visit with her son before leaving the country. Once again, though Julia knew that her son would likely be in the facility for many years to come, just being able to communicate and understand the situation brought her a sense of peace. Julia’s compañera wished her a safe journey home and let her know that our prayers would continue to be with her and her son.
All stories are based on real clients at Taller de José. Names and images have been changed to protect client privacy.