Thousands of Los Angeles County prisoners are housed in Pitchess Detention center, 50 miles from the inner city neighborhoods where police make many arrests. The closest bus stop is a mile away from the jail, and visitors can either walk the last mile or get a ride from Mama Betty.
The journey, which can take hours, ends in a 30 minute visit with the person behind bars. “Weekends they’re no longer our weekends. Coming up here it’s hard, says Nina Gonzalez, “and only doing this four months I’m already struggling.” She has visited North County Correctional Facility at Pitchess countless times.
Reporter George Lavender finds out how this weekly journey to the jail has made a community out of the visitors, and an unlikely hero out of a woman named Mama Betty.
Mama Betty, whose full name is Betty Peters, is usually waiting to shuttle visitors the last mile from the bus stop to the jail. If not for her, they’d have to walk. “I always say to them, when your man gets out you take them on this trip so he sees what you went through, because they don’t understand they’re sitting in a cell in a facility where they hardly have to move and these women are going and they’ll do it on Saturday and Sunday because it’s the two days they can visit. So it’s really something to understand what these women are willing to do for their men that they love.”
(Photo of Betty Peters in her car by George Lavender)