In alternating voices, Judith Wright Favor and Rosie Alfaro take the reader on a frank, frustrating, and unforgettable journey. Friending Rosie: Respect on Death Row bridges the chasm between souls consigned to life behind bars, and souls enjoying the privileges of freedom.
Rosie’s letters from Central California Women’s Facility, interwoven with Judith’s reflections and questions, highlight perspectives from authors of different races, religions, and languages. Marginalized people stifle their stories when there is no one to hear, but mutual listening brings forth accounts of regret, doubt, humiliation, and grace. Some stories describe difficult encounters in prison. Family members with intimate knowledge of Rosie tell their stories. Other tales illustrate surprising parallels in the inner lives of both authors.
Judith follows the friendly path of Quakers who began in the 1650s to value women’s leadership and befriend prisoners. Rosie grew up Catholic, in a faith tradition that shaped her art and values. Both write stories interwoven with social challenges and spiritual practices intended to support readers in reaching out to persons behind bars.
8-12-20: “It’s yours, mine, and God’s book. I’ve been lettin people know about our book and about you. People are very interested in our story, and I know this is a start of a great journey. I’m very proud of us, friend… I wanted to tell you that to me this means nothing, but to lots of people who like crime stuff, me being the youngest and the first Latina to get the d. penalty in Calif. is a big deal. I’m personally ashamed of it, but there’s people who think it’s cool. I love you and you stay safe. Tu Amiga, Rosie”
Incarcerating our way to safety does not work. Friendships do work. These stories, rooted in caring and respect, offer a warmly satisfying testimony to the power of friending.