Living Under the Shadow of Death: The Experiences of Women Formerly on Death Row in the Philippines

Dr Diana Therese Veloso1

1De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines

This paper examines the experiences of women who spent time on death row before the suspension of capital punishment in the Philippines in 2006.  To contextualize the discussion, the researcher looks into their pathways to prison and the common themes in their backgrounds that brought them in contact with the criminal justice system. The researcher illuminates their issues and coping mechanisms when they still lived under the sentence of death,  and the impact of their incarceration on their family members and other significant networks.  This paper elaborates on their social worlds under confinement, their struggles for survival when they were on death row, and their negotiation of the social order in the penitentiary.  The researcher also delves into the near-execution of one woman and confirmation of the death sentences of five other women, and the impact thereof on the rest of the women inmates on death row. The researcher discusses the women’s views on the suspension of capital punishment, their understanding of the commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment without parole, the changes in their situation since the repeal of the death penalty, and their fears regarding the revival of the death penalty in the Philippines under the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.  This paper concludes with a discussion of their persisting issues and service needs in prison as they continue to serve long-term sentences, while avoiding the prospect of returning to death row if capital punishment were to be reinstated.


Biography:

Dr. Diana Therese M. Veloso is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Studies Program Coordinator of the Behavioral Science Department at De La Salle University. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at Loyola University Chicago. She has conducted original research on the life histories and issues of women formerly on death row in the Philippines and the reentry experiences and challenges of formerly incarcerated women in Chicago, Illinois.  She served as the lead researcher in two studies on serious and organized crime threats in the Philippines, as commissioned by the National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Subcommittee on Organized Crime (NALECC-SCOC).  She was a consultant in a nationwide evaluation of the interventions and rehabilitation programs for children in conflict with the law (CICL) in the Philippines. She has also conducted research on gender-based violence among internally displaced people (IDPs) in Zamboanga City and Marawi City, two conflict zones in the Southern Philippines. She was also involved in participatory action research projects with the Native American community in Chicago, Illinois.

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