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Mexico's Deputy Consul Sylvia Cabrera Visits Airway Heights Corrections Center

October 13, 2016

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

Inmates perform an Aztec Tribal Dance during the facility Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. (Tim Kelly , DOC Communications) See photo gallery...

AIRWAY HEIGHTS – Miniature flags of Honduras, Spain, Mexico, and other countries of Meso-America decorated Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC) for a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration on Sat., Sept. 22, 2016.

Sylvia Cabrera, the Deputy Consul at the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle gave an address to those in attendance, stating allowing inmates to express themselves through their ethnic culture improves their self-esteem while they are in prison, which can help them re-adjust to life once they reenter society.

“It’s a way of keeping alive who they are and their identity,” Cabrera said. “It’s very important for them to open up and know about their culture. Inmates that go back to the community face really challenging situations and we have been collaborating with Washington State Department of Corrections, (DOC) to make that transition easier for them. We’re building bridges here.”

National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the history, culture and contributions of people whose ancestors come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, according to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website. Sept. 15 is the Independence Day of several Latin countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Additionally, the Mexican holiday, Día de la Raza, is celebrated within this 30-day period.

More than 200 people attended the event, including several Hispanic inmates and their families. As of June 30, about 13.1 percent of the state’s 18,991 inmates identified as Hispanic, according to DOC statisticsAdobe PDF document file. This equates to approximately 2,487 inmates.

Podcast: Sylvia Cabrera

To view the podcast transcript, click hereAdobe PDF document file.

Five inmates dressed in colorful leather headdresses adorned with peacock feathers. The shells on their knee covers jingled as they performed traditional Mexican tribal dances while families ate a meal of soft tacos. The event included displays of inmate artwork and a performance by the band Rain City Time Machine.

Cabrera added recognizing different cultures in prison settings teaches inmates about tolerance.

“Our culture is rich, “Cabrera said. “It enshrines values that we share, like inclusiveness, solidarity, integrity and respect.”