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A STITCH IN TIME

The thing about interviewing prisoners in such a dinky little country as New Zealand is that despite the efforts of prison personnel to keep their identities and their offending histories off your radar, you’ll likely come away with enough information to figure out who they are and what they’ve done within one or two Google searches. This is how I learned that I’d hugged someone whose reasonably high-profile trial I distinctly remember, and not for pleasant reasons.

Upon connecting the dots, details of the crime itself came flooding back. I had friends that lived in the area. They had additional family members that lived in the area. It was not a large area. The event shook the community and beyond. It was heinous. The life sentence ultimately delivered unto the accused was, I imagine, a cold comfort to the victim’s family. Lock her up and throw away the key, they no doubt thought. What could this sorry excuse for a human being possibly have to offer the world 10, 20, 100 years from now?

With none of this yet swirling around in my head, I meet Roxy* at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (ARWCF) in Manukau, where she’s on the final stretch of the sentence that was handed down to her all those years ago. We’re in the sewing room, a 10-minute walk and several security doors deep into the prison grounds which, on a sunny morning, resemble a typical high school campus but with more barbed wire. A dressmaker once upon a time, Roxy is seated at her sewing machine feeding calico under the presser foot, the whirring of the

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