Her story has resulted in some sharp reactions, some from people who think jails should be modern torture chambers, and others from angry prison insiders who resort to personal attacks. Lorena's mother has been told that, if she keeps squawking, some of these insiders may sue her. Instead of silencing her, this threat has made Lorena more vocal.
Here's what Lorena herself has to say about conditions at Northampton County's jail.
"I am currently an inmate in Northampton County Prison. My name is Lorena Hacker and I have been incarcerated since May 17, 2009 for a technical parole violation and my max date was up on November 9, 2009. I also have new charges pending for a non-violent drug-related offense. I have yet to go to court regarding this matter and have been rescheduled for the third time, so my preliminary hearing is now scheduled for December 22, 2009 at Magistrate Marinkovits in Northampton. I have a public defender. There are no drugs as evidence. I have never had a violent charge or physically harmed anyone but myself. All of my past criminal history was drug-related. I have spent years of my life in and out of jail due to mistakes and bad choices I have made because of my addiction to drugs, and not once have I been sent to a rehab. Sure I have been sentenced to a rehab, however the county paroled me to my home plan instead. I feel that jail is the last place I need to be. I never received any in-patient rehabilitation or counseling. I just don't understand this criminal justice system. There are some women who have been sent to a rehab 2-5 times, yet I have never been given the opportunity even once. Why? I know that I have made bad choices and many mistakes, but I do not deserve to be locked up in a prison with no rehabilitation, no counseling and no help.
"I cannot even get proper medical treatment much less dental care in here. I have cavities and all the dentist will do here is pull teeth. So basically, because I get cavities, I should get teeth pulled and along with losing them,lose some more of my self esteem?
"My addiction grabbed a hold of me in 1996. I first came to jail in 1998. I think. It's sad to say this, but it's been so many years that I don't even remember which year exactly that this nightmare began. I'm tired. I'm crying out for help. I'm crying out for justice.
"Yes, I have a criminal record, but that doesn't mean I am a bad person, that doesn't mean that I don't deserve to be treated like a human being. I need help, not to be locked up and ignored. All I am asking for is some help. Please
Sincerely and respectfully,
Here's some of her questions.
1. Why do men have a rehabilitation program with group activities all day and are able to be housed on their own separate unit, not with the rest of the prison population? The women of NCP are not so lucky.
2. Out of all the classes provided for the women, how many are volunteers and how are actually paid facilitators?
3. The prison has now begun a program called IBM. We are supposed to be provided with games and art supplies, etc. A majority of these have been donated and some Correctional Officers have even bought the female inmates games and supplies out of their own pockets. Where is all the money going? Why don't people start holding this county accountable for receipts? I mean, really, how much does a pack of construction paper cost? Yeah, okay, add in a couple of glue sticks, etc. Where are the thousands of dollars for our programs going?
4. Why are the C.Os walking around the unit wearing coats because it is so cold, while the inmates, have short sleeved jumpers? Then on too of it, we aren't allowed to use our blankets from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
5. Why are there three battery operated razors for 40 women, and none of them are soaked in Barbisol solution, ever. All we have is a spray bottle to squirt them down with. Why don't we ask a hair salon how sanitary that is?
6. Why should women who have been abused by men on the outside have to bear witness to the same thing on the inside? Being subjected not only to physical abuse but mental and verbal as well?
7. Why is it that violent offenders who have been convicted of a violent crime against another human being are released back into society, before me? When I am in prison for a non-violent drug offense due to my drug addiction and am guilty of moving without notifying parole of my change of address?
8. Why are men in this prison allowed to have visits without glass in between them and their visitor, but women, who carry our children in our wombs for nine months are not granted contact with our children?
9. Why are men allowed the privilege of earning money by doing kitchen work, laundry, maintenance and commissary, while the only paying jobs for women are three females who receive one dollar per day for cleaning the hallways. Out of all the females incarcerated here, only three can get a paid job. What about the tray runners who do their job three times a day, only to receive an extra tray as payment and sometimes not even that? So basically, they work for free because how much does one inmate meal cost? Any really, who wants to eat this county food anyway?
10. Why would people expect prisoners to change by locking them up without sunshine or even a window to see the outside? The only light we get is artificial. I haven't seen the sun in 6 months all because I never received counseling for some trauma I've gone through, so I turned to drugs to numb my painful memories. So now I still don[t receive counseling and am removed from society, not to mention the light of day. On top of my sorrow and traumatic memories I can become bitter and angry because I'm locked up and ignored.
Lorena's mother is trying to get her to a gynecologist for some female problems. She's willing to pay for it herself. But Lorena has no appointment.