Jesse's mom finally speaks out
Once a week I drive six hours - four of them through a largely-barren Arizona desert - in order that I can spend two hours a week with my son Jesse - the only two hours a week that visitors are allowed in at the prison. I cherish every second of those 120 minutes. It’s the return trip - when I leave my son to spend his time in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit - that is tough. Sometimes I lose hope that my son will be freed yet Jesse - who has never wavered in his innocence - rarely loses his optimism.
On those treasured visiting days, I always start early. I go to the grocery store and then come home to make and pack a lunch since there are no restaurants along the desert drive and even the cell phone reception is not available.
I am lucky now. Up until July, 2011, all my visits with Jesse were separated by glass. It was a corridor of people and kids shouting, trying to talk to one another through a clear barrier, usually without the benefit of telephones. It’s a challenge to be heard. Now the prison building Jesse is in holds visiting hours in an open room where I can sit across from him at a table like a mother and son might normally do. But the building has been condemned so I am not sure how much longer we will be able to visit face to face, across a common table.
The best part of our time together is that I get to hug him when I arrive and hug him again when I leave. And throughout the visit, I try to stay upbeat but it’s usually Jesse who is the one really able to keep my spirits high. He is my therapy. He keeps me laughing – even when he has little reason to laugh. He is convinced his innocence will speak for itself and his appeal for justice will someday be heard.
Jesse and Lorraine at a friend's wedding in 2004
Jesse and Lorraine at the Arizona prison in 2011