Ivonne Gonzalez -- #45995-004

11 Years -- Cocaine Conspiracy

Ivonne Gonzalez, prisoner of the drug war
October 30, 1997

Dear Judge,

My name is Ivonne Gonzalez, I was born in Colombia and raised in Miami, Florida. In 1992 I was arrested and sentenced to 11 years and 3 months for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine. I was arrested at 21 years old and my daughter Gina Gisselle was 3 months old. Right now I am 26, and my daughter is 5 years old.

I call her at least once or twice a week and she always asks me the same question "When are you coming home?"

Those seem to be the only words I can get out of her. As a mother, I can tell you it doesn't matter how hard I try to let her know, I am here for her and I am her true mother, she does not seem to understand or even care . . . but then again how can or do you explain to a 5 year old little child that her mom cannot come home for 11 years?

For my daughter I am a voice on the phone who checks in once in awhile and says the special words "Hi, how are you?" and after that its like we have nothing to say or talk about. Just at the end of the conversation she tells me "I love you Mommy." To her I am just a picture, a letter, and a voice because I have not seen her in 5 years and had no contact with her for 4 years. Gina Gisselle was growing up with my little sister Laurie, who is 4 years older than her. They were close and Laurie filled that emptiness that Gisselle had in her heart because of my absence. Due to the circumstances, today Gina Gissselle and Laurie are separated and being taken care of by two different families. These two families live far apart and that makes it harder for them to see each other. My daughter does not talk about Laurie but I can feel her pain, just by asking her things about Laurie and then she'll say "I miss her."

Now that the holidays are coming, tears come because she feels she has no family to share with. How can she understand Mommy and Daddy can't be with her at Christmas time like the rest of the kids around her?

My daughter has been through a lot of phases since she was three months old. She started school about a month ago and it was hard for her to accept that she did not have a mommy or daddy to represent her in her new school like the rest of the kids. Gisselle is tired of feeling out of place and now she wants to make a "happy family picture" in her eyes and in the eyes of others. Just the other day the friend that takes care of her, "Can we pretend you are my mommy and he is daddy, and nobody has to know . . ."

How can a 5 year old handle all that depression and loneliness is what I ask myself. When we talk, she is very enthusiastic and after our conversation she hangs up and has no words, she is a different person who just wants to be left alone.

For a mother it is very painful not to know what her daughter likes to eat, how she eats, how she sleeps, what she likes to watch on TV and the littlest things you can imagine. Those are the things you know are passing by each day and those special moments of growing up that you know you cannot bring back. I am trying hard not to be a stranger in her eyes and maybe with time she will open up to me and let me come in her little world. My daughter has many questions but she never asks them. I always wonder who is more scared-her to ask or me to answer?

I have no control over the future or our lives to come. How can I answer her questions if I don't know if there will be a better tomorrow for her, us or will we be a family again?

I am a first time offender and I am doing time because someone said we sold drugs, but nothing was ever found in my house. I guess I am not totally innocent and I plead guilty to "conspiracy" taking away 11 years from my daughter. I guess when we are young we live a lot of fantasies and want the world, but is 11 years the punishment for someone that did not kill or have drugs on her?

All I have now is a phone that connects me to my daughter.

Sincerely, Ivonne Gonzalez