I visited Miss Fisher on Wednesday and have some good news: She is allowed visits in the low security area, i.e. there is no more plexiglas and a guard listening to every word. She sat directly across the table from me, and I risked discreetly touching her hand, just to confirm this was all real.
She looks surprisingly fit; well-rested and as plump as I have ever seen her. She tells me that she eats well, even on the odd days when she sent to the “cave”, as they call solitary confinement here. Some of her former students are guards and administrators, apparently, and they treat her well despite her convictions.
She does seem a little pale, and her brow was furrowed. She says she misses being outdoors as much as she wants, and later on told me some of the stories of her fellow inmates, which I am thinking contribute to the world-weary expression that she wears.
Miss Fisher’s parole hearing is coming up, and though it is mostly a formality (she will most certainly be denied), I think it is time she and I and all her friends start sharing ideas and strategies for getting her home and into the sunlight for the last few years of her life. If not at this hearing, then the next.
The main problem is that she is not very cooperative with the prison therapist, whom, she tells me, she doesn’t respect, and who believes that she has somehow unravelled the mysteries of Miss Fisher’s past and motives, despite Miss Fisher’s reticence about anything regarding her upbringing, teaching career, and the multiple murders. We aren’t even sure how many men she killed— not even I am sure. The parole board will demand a full confession, all relevant details, expressions of regret, and assurances that Miss Fisher no longer poses a threat to society.
Miss Fisher refuses to be forthcoming. She doesn’t like it in prison. She longs to be free. But she puts a high value on her privacy, and if she feels remorse about the murders she committed, she hides it well. She is not a psychopath, I know she feels deeply, but she simply refuses to share details about her life even though it is against her best interests.
So I am contacting all her friends and supporters, most by form letter, but I send this original, heartfelt letter to you because I know how much you cherish her, and how much you mean to her. You are like family to Miss Fisher, and the one most likely to get through to her.
How is it that we can forgive this woman, who committed such brutal, seemingly random murders? Somehow we do. It is like the crimes were committed in another dimension, by a Miss Fisher who is a righteous defender of the weak and helpless. She is such a defender. But who was she defending by murdering say, a young college student? A man whose wife was pregnant for the first time? A elderly grandfather to seven children?
I want to know, I’m sure you do, and the parole board certainly does. But she does not have to confess to the parole board (or to us). It is completely unethical of me to say this, but she has to tell them what they want to hear. Ironically she is the most ethical of us all, so it will take some convincing. She needs to help me write the script. The goal is Miss Fisher’s freedom. She is old. She has served time, and will do no more harm.
So, in your next correspondence, or during your next visit, could you please discuss the parole hearing with her? It is scheduled for October 14, so there is not much time. If you would like to meet with me and talk about this further, and about the possibility of your testifying at the hearing, I am available most Thursdays after four PM.
- Image by Kim Normandin