Grettel Hernández Quesada, 40 years old, is serving out a 20-year sentence at the Vilma Curling (Buen Pastor) prison, in San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados, for killing her 18-day-old baby girl.

She claims that she is paying a double sentence because in addition to the sentence there is another unofficial punishment: the constant beatings and even stabbing.

“I’m so tired that one day I told a police officer to shoot me because I was already tried and sentenced and I’m serving my sentence, but they move me from one area to another and I get beaten (from other inmates) and do nothing. The same officers have allowed me to be kicked in front of them and when I ask to speak with the director they ignore me,” she told Silvia Coto, in an interview with La Teja.

Hernandez was sentenced in 2000 after her lawyer told her to submit to an abbreviated process, that is, not to go to trial for the murder of her daughter on August 25, 1998.

“I had two children when I got pregnant, I went to the hospital and they told me that they were twins and that one was dead. They did an exam and they told me they had to take out the other baby, they did a cesarean, for me, it was shocking to be told that my baby was dead,” she said.

Hernandez said that as soon as she left the hospital she went to see her baby where they had buried her and they put a cross on her grave. “At that moment I felt bad as if I were stuck in a hole, not wanting anything, as if I wanted to die,” she said.

She says that she even tried to take her life, but one of her daughters begged her not to leave them alone.

“One day we were in the house my children and the baby, she did not stop crying, I just wanted her to shut up and I shook her (explodes in tears), I put her in the crib, and I went to the kitchen, I sat a step to mourn and cry, my children asked me for food, and after feeding them, when I grabbed the baby I saw something happen to her because she had her head bouncing all over.

“She was not breathing, my other children asked me what was wrong with the baby, it was raining hard and asked a neighbor for help, who called an ambulance,” said Grettel.

On arrival at the Hospital San Francisco de Asís, in Grecia, the baby was dead. “At that moment I realized what I had done and I started to live a hell, I never wanted to hurt it, I just wanted it to stop crying, the police arrested me sometime later because I had my oldest son hospitalized, he had seizures.

“My father paid a lawyer who told me to submit to an abbreviated process. Not until I was in jail I knew what postpartum depression existed and even the psychologist told me that she believes that that was what happened to me,” she said.

According to Hernández, when she entered the prison her crime was less common, and although they kicked her mattress and shouted at her, the aggressions were less than in the last six months.

She has been in prison for almost 12 years and has stab wounds to the neck and leg, was hit by a cellmate with whom she shared the cell and who also remains imprisoned in the same prison.

Entrance to the Buen Pastor women’s prison located in Desamparados

Lost opportunity

Grettel received the benefit of being out of prison twice for good behavior, but both occasions ended with arrest warrants.

“I returned to jail last in November, I was wanted, my mom was the one who supported me most and was killed by a car, and my two brothers hung themselves two months apart. For one to be free, you need to have the support of family.

“When I left I had a partner, work and home, but my partner started hitting me and I had to leave him, I went to live in a hotel in San Jose and I did not show up to sign (in) because I was afraid of going back to jail but the OIJ found me,” she said.

Hernandez has been in various cell blocks, in including maximum security and in individual cells.

According to her now the crime she in prison for is more common. “Everything they do to me here is for my crime, so they tell me,” she explained.

According to her, a transsexual recently hit her with a “palopiso” (floor mop), then an officer twisted her fingers and another policewoman grabbed her by the neck and pressed her and on that day she had to push her.

“The day the officer grabbed me they said they were going to do a search for my fault, imagine what that means, that day there was a riot, in front of the security people they let others prisoners grab my head while others tried to defend me,” she said.

Sleeps on the floor

The woman assures that her belongings are constantly stolen, in addition, right now she is in a room with a companion who threatens her, she has to sleep on the floor because the bunk assigned to her is used by her cellmate for her personal belongings.

“I am alive because God is very big, but I am tired of the officers allowing me to be attacked, asking me to speak with the director or the social worker and not be able to and lie to then on their reports because sometimes they say that I have problems with coexistence, but they do not detail why,” she said.

Hernandez says she is afraid that one of these days she will be stabbed again or even killed.

“I do not care what cell they put me in, but let me serve my sentence calmly and safely,” says the woman.

“I always think of my children, I can not forget them, they were given up for adoption, even after the baby died, I had another daughter who was also adopted. They are adults now, the biggest sentence for me is what I was I did, my biggest punishment is not having them and I was never a bad mother,” she assured.

The woman has several scars on her body and showed them every time we asked her about the time she has been imprisoned.