Hope for Redemption

In Memory of a Prisoner

By Lalove Foster

Dovey Smalls looked much the way I had imagined her from her name—small and slender, alert and watchful, like a brown dove. Her hands shook periodically during our interview, a feature that struck me as a nervous tick but turned out to be the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease. She spoke the rough speech of a person who had spent her life in truck stops and trailer parks. But there was a sweetness to Dovey, a kindness to her spirit that belied the fact that she was serving a life sentence for murder.

I met Dovey in 2009, when I interviewed her for an IDAHO magazine article I was writing about educational programs in the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center [“The Prison Class,” June 2010]. When I met her, I didn’t know the reason for her incarceration. Based on her comments during the interview, I pieced together that she was serving a life sentence, which surprised me. What could this rough but kindly woman—the type of woman I could imagine chatting in line with at the grocery store—have done to warrant a life sentence in prison?

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