Xitlally Lupian took her very first steps in the visiting area at Corcoran State Prison. When she was little, her mother explained her father’s absence as a “big people time out” for breaking the rules.
Now, she is 16 and her father is still serving a 38-year, nine-month sentence for gun-related felonies. He has been in prison since she was eight months old. Still, the soft-spoken teen from Oakland is determined to maintain her relationship with her father despite all the obstacles. He’s now in Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, a seven-hour haul by car. Xitlally says that currently he is in solitary and can’t make phone calls. Unfortunately, family visits are rare because it costs a lot of money for gas and to stay in a motel near the prison. It has been three weeks since Xitlally saw her father through a thick plate glass window where she talked to him on a static-filled prison phone. Before that, she hadn’t seen him in three years.
“I should be able to see my dad,” she says. “It shouldn’t have to be that much of a struggle to see my father.”