Of Victimization, Criminality, and Punishment: The Narratives of Women Formerly on Death Row in the Philippines

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Diana Therese VELOSO, De La Salle University, Philippines
This paper illuminates women inmates’ experiences, social environment, and persisting issues and concerns, focusing on the narratives of women who spent time on death row before the abolition of capital punishment in the Philippines. Drawing upon participant observation and in-depth interviews with women formerly on death row, their family members, and prison staff, the researcher examines the women's pathways to prison and death row and the link thereof to their prior experiences of victimization and social and economic marginalization. The researcher also considers how deception and betrayal in close relationships, compounded by institutional corruption in the criminal justice system, constituted a pathway to death row for the majority of the informants. This study looks into the women’s concerns and coping mechanisms when they were still on death row and the impact of their incarceration on their family members, particularly their children, and other significant networks. This paper elaborates on their social worlds under confinement, their struggles for dignity and survival, their relationships with fellow inmates and prison staff, and their negotiation of the social order in the penitentiary. This research also delves into the near-execution of one woman, the confirmation of the death sentences of five women, and the impact thereof on other women on death row. The researcher discusses the women’s views on the suspension of capital punishment, their understanding of their current sentence of life imprisonment without parole, any changes in their situation, and their fears regarding the revival of the death penalty under the administration of President Duterte. This paper concludes with a discussion of their issues and service needs in prison, their relationships with their significant networks, and their survival strategies as they continue to serve long-term sentences, while avoiding the prospect of returning to death row if capital punishment were to be reinstated in 2017.