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Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:23 AM

1/26 Rally at Central CA Women's prison. sickening. 4000 women in one prison.

* if you can't make the rally, call your local congressmen and ask, is this the way we treat our women in America?

Chowchilla Freedom Rally
When: Sat, January 26, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
WhereValley State Prison for Women, 21633 Avenue 24, Chowchilla, CA 93610
Description: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is converting Valley State Prison for Women into a men's prison in response to a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce overcrowding.

Instead of releasing people, they are squeezing over 1,000 women and transgender people into the two remaining women's prisons.

This has aggravated overcrowding (bringing Central California Women's Facility's population dangerously close to 4000), created dangerous conditions and health care is getting much worse....

What's more, they have added yet another men's prison to their inhumane system. Rides available by bus and carpool. Contact [email protected] or 415-255-7036 x 314. In the Central Valley: Contact CPMP 559-367-6020 or email [email protected] Caravans leaving from MacArthur BART in Oakland at 10:30AM and Chuco's Justice Center in Inglewood at 8:30AM. Gathering at 2PM at SE corner of Ave. 24 and Fairmead Blvd off Highway 99 in Chowchilla.

I went to one of these ralliies over 12 years ago. I stood outside the gates with family members. They told of horror stories of what was happening inside the prison. Some prisoners had pain for sickle cell anema and weren't receiving treatment. many had cancer and were receiving pain treatment. some many had mental illness and weren't being treated. Many of the women grew up abused. Some were arrested for hiding their boyfriend's drugs, or being in the get away car, or actually trying to defend themselves from an abusive spouse or boyfriend.

There is a Democrat Gov, Assembly, adn Senate and still we are treating our sisters so inhumanely. It is so bad that where I live now in MN, they even know the horrible conditions.


News - Local
Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013

Groups set to protest crowding at Chowchilla women's prison
By JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH - [email protected]
CHOWCHILLA -- Hundreds of people led by more than a dozen advocacy groups plan to converge on Chowchilla on Saturday to protest overcrowding at the Central California Women's Facility.
At more than 180 percent of design capacity, the women's prison is the most crowed facility in California, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"It's gender discrimination," said Adrienne Roberts, campaign coordinator with California Coalition for Women Prisoners.

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/01/24/2778317/groups-set-to-protest-crowding.html#storylink=cpy

The coalition said it has received hundreds of letters from people inside the prison describing a lack of basic medical care, as well as limited access to job programs and legal resources.
"The system is not working," Roberts said. "People are living in the most inhumane and insufferable conditions."
The protest is scheduled for 3 p.m. in front of Valley State Prison outside Chowchilla.
Prison officials didn't return calls seeking comment by deadline.
Hundreds of female inmates were transferred to the prison after the formerly named Valley State Prison for Women was recently converted to a men's facility to ease prison crowding under a federal court order.
"It's a total paradox to be reducing the prison population in California and as a result CCWF is now the most overcrowded prison," Roberts said.
Organizers of the rally demand the state release prisoners, such as elderly, terminally ill and permanently incapacitated inmates, to ease Chowchilla's crammed women's facility.
A number of early-release programs designed by the state could be used to safely reduce the prison population, Roberts said.
"This is not something that we have not come up with. These are programs that the Department of Corrections is simply not implementing," Roberts said. "If they were, it's estimated that 4,000 people would be released."
Recently state officials tried unsuccessfully to convince a federal three-judge panel to allow the prison system to operate under its current conditions.
The governor and top prison officials argued that improvements to medical facilities and the reduction in inmate population had adequately addressed crowding concerns.
The judges have yet to rule on the issue, and are expected to make their decision in the next three months.
However, the judges maintained their stance that the state must reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity by June 26. The population cap does not refer to individual facilities, but to the system's 33 adult prisons collectively.
California's prison system stands at about 150 percent of design capacity, according to corrections officials.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/01/24/2778317/groups-set-to-protest-crowding.html#storylink=cpy

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Reply 1/26 Rally at Central CA Women's prison. sickening. 4000 women in one prison. (Original post)
annm4peace Jan 2013 OP
annm4peace Jan 2013 #1
annm4peace Jan 2013 #2
annm4peace Jan 2013 #3
annm4peace Jan 2013 #4
annm4peace Jan 2013 #5

Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:02 AM

1. who cares about the women in prison anyhow




The Chowchilla Freedom Rally Coalition includes members from California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Justice NOW, All Of Us Or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Fired Up!, Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project, Critical Resistance, Youth Justice Coalition, Global Women’s Strike, Occupy 4 Prisoners, Asian Pacific Islander Support Committee and the California Prison Moratorium Project.

***** Just another War on Women ****

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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:28 AM

2. just some of the stories

Why are women the fastest-growing prison population?
By HOLLY KERNAN on October 17, 2011 - 5:22pm

In the last 25 years, women have been the fastest growing prison population in the United States and in California. Between the ‘70s and the 2000s, the number of female inmates in state prisons serving a sentence of over a year has grown by 757%.

Between 1985 and 2007, the number of women in prison increased by nearly double the rate of men. At the height of California’s prison boom, in the late 1990s, Theresa Martinez was shipped to a brand new prison in Chowchilla.

The two prisons in Chowchilla were built to house the ballooning population of women, incarcerated mostly for drug-related crimes.

THERESA MARTINEZ: And as the population grew, they were bringing busloads and busloads of women and we were filling up the rooms. At first we started with four bunks. And then more bunks got put in there, that was six. And then eight. Which is past the fire laws. Which they don’t care about the fire laws, somehow they got past that too. And there’s eight in a room now. And basically you’re told when to eat. Each unit goes at a time to eat. You have to wait in line for canteen. You have to wait in line for medical. Don’t catch the flu and have to put in a co-pay, because you’ll have to wait two days anyway.

Martinez is one of 13 women featured in the new book, Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons.

The book’s editors Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman joined KALW’s Holly Kernan for this interview.

* * *

HOLLY KERNAN: A lot of people, women in particular, are caught up in the system because of drugs. Let’s hear a little bit more of Theresa Martinez’s on how she eventually ended up spending a long, long time behind bars.

THERESA MARTINEZ: By the time I was five, I used to self-inflict pain on myself. I remember hitting the back of my head against walls, or pulling my hair, even biting myself, out of just pure anger because I didn’t know how … I didn’t know why things were the way they were – I was too little to understand. But I wanted to know why my friends had a mother and a father and brothers and sisters, and I didn’t have any of that.

I started running away from my grandparents’ house at the age of 12, and I got into PCP, smoking PCP. At age 15 I got pregnant with my daughter. My daughter was born with 9.8 phencyclidine in her system. I was charged for that – got sent to youth authority. From youth authority I graduated straight into the prison system, adult prison system, and I’ve been on parole for the past 26 years of my life.

So you can pretty much imagine, I’m very much used to institutions; I consider them my home. I had no other way of knowing there was a better life for me. I just knew that’s what I deserved and that’s where I had to be. And I kind of adapted to the prison system to where I would come out for 90 days and it was like a vacation. Coming out to the free world was a vacation and I had to go right back in again to where what I knew, and it became my comfort zone – prison.

KERNAN: Martinez is now 45, and she’s recently gotten off of parole. How common is a story like Theresa’s?

ROBIN LEVI: It’s ubiquitous. The story of incarceration, particularly of incarceration of women in this country, is an artifact of the war on drugs. When we decided to increase the penalties for drug use, for drug sale, so astronomically – we began pouring hundreds of thousands of people in the prison system. We now in this country incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, certainly more than any other western country.

KERNAN: And why is it that women are the fastest growing prison population? That’s really happened over the last two decades.

LEVI: And that is the war on drugs. So women are being caught with mandatory minimums, and judges have less discretion in terms of sentencing. In addition women are often the lowest on the totem pole; they have very little to offer in terms of a deal. So they again end up being caught and being put on a mandatory minimum on a required sentence.

AYELET WALDMAN: Let me give you two scenarios. Let’s say before we had these mandatory minimum sentences – and what a mandatory minimum sentence says is the judge has no discretion, for this weight of drugs, you are sentenced to 10 years – doesn’t matter where you are in the conspiracy, doesn’t matter if you’re the kingpin or the lowest person on the totem pole…

KERNAN: Or if you just lived in the house…

WALDMAN: If you happened to have carried a box from point A to point B, all you have to do is know about the conspiracy and commit one overt act in furtherance of it that doesn’t even have to be an illegal act.

So it used to be – let’s take it back 30 or 40 years – a woman would come before the court whose husband was a drug dealer. She is a mother of three, and was nominally involved – took a phone message. The judge would look at that woman and the judge would say, “There are three children dependent on you. It’s ridiculous to incarcerate you. You have no history of criminal offense. Your husband was the person involved. I’m going to give you probation so you can take care of your children. I’m going to give you some kind of home-monitoring. I’m going to give you drug treatment if you’re addicted to drugs.”

Fast forward post the mandatory minimum sentencing, and what happens is that judge has no choice. One of the things you cannot take into consideration are ordinary family circumstances. We had a case where a woman had five foster children who were dependent on her, and it doesn’t matter if you have five foster children who are going to go back into the system whose lives are going to be ruined. You can’t take that into consideration. Doesn’t matter if your husband was the drug dealer and you weren’t. Nothing matters except one thing: whether you can barter information for a lower sentence.

So who barters? The person higher up on the totem pole. The higher up you are, the more you know, the more people you can rat, and the more likely you are to get a lower sentence. So we have this reverse system now where the drug kingpins are going for very little time if at all and the people who are serving the longest sentence are the lowest on the totem pole. And women are invariably the lowest on the totem pole.

KERNAN: And you touched upon the fact that there are these ripple effects which is that women are often the caretakers of children – what’s happening to all of these children who are left essentially without a mom?

LEVI: More than 66%, more than two-thirds of the women in prison are primary caretakers of children under 18. And so what’s happening is that many of these children are going into the foster care system, which is not supportive in pretty much any way, and certainly not to older children coming in. And so you can try and get your child set up with a guardian, but there’s a lot of restrictions as to who can be a guardian. So if you have any violent felony on your history, whether it’s five years ago or 10, you can’t become a guardian to that child. If you have someone else living in your house who was maybe on parole, you can’t become a guardian of that child. So like I said, these children go into the foster care system.

In addition, what the Adoption and Families Act which was passed in around 1994, they’ve really accelerated the rate at which you can get your parental rights terminated. And so if you’ve got a child under three, in California, within six months your parental rights can be terminated.

WALDMAN: So effectively, your punishment for possessing drugs is losing your child forever.

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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 12:59 AM

3. finally some pictures

These photos are from the Freedom Rally held at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), near Chowchilla. About 400 people marched to protest the horrendous living conditions in this notorious prison.

Here is background information on the rally from a press release issued earlier today from Californians United for a Responsible Budget:

Just weeks after Governor Brown declared that "the prison crisis is over in California," hundreds of people from all over the state will be getting on buses and into cars Saturday morning, making the trek to Chowchilla. They will join hundreds of Californians from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in the Central Valley at a Freedom Rally in protest of horrendous living conditions in the notorious prison, Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF).

Some participants have a loved one at the prison; others have spent time inside; while others are activists and residents working to shrink California’s massive prison system. All are concerned about the humanitarian crisis in CCWF, and are demanding immediate release for as many people as possible.

“We are traveling all the way from LA to the Valley to show solidarity between people on the outside and people on the inside.” remarked Julio Marquez, a Youth Organizer for Youth Justice Coalition who has two cousins that have been locked up in Central Valley prisons.

CCWF is at 186% of its capacity, with 3,918 women and transgender prisoners packed into a facility designed to hold 2,000. Despite threats of retaliation, prisoner advocacy organizations Justice Now and California Coalition for Women Prisoners received over 1,000 declarations from people inside CCWF and the nearby Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) highlighting a lack of basic medical care, increased tension and conflicts among prisoners due to crowding, increased lockdowns, and seriously reduced access to jobs, programs and legal resources. People inside CCWF are calling the treatment of prisoners and their conditions gender discrimination and a violation of their civil and human rights.

“Californians should care about this issue because we are talking about the importance of people’s lives. People die because of the inadequate medical help,” says Theresa Martinez, of Justice Now who spent 23 years of her life locked in California prisons. “Taxpayers are paying to keep warehousing people instead of figuring out how to set them free.”

Against the wishes of residents in Chowchilla, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently converted VSPW into a men’s prison. Instead of releasing people and closing VSPW, the CDCR is squeezing over 1,000 women and transgender people into the two remaining women’s prisons, in addition to a newly opened section of Folsom prison. Organizers of Saturday’s rally are demanding that VSPW be closed altogether, and that the state respond to crowding at CCWF by releasing prisoners through Alternative Custody Programs (ACP), parole for elderly people, and grant compassionate release for terminally ill people and medical parole for permanently incapacitated prisoners. In 2011, CDCR itself noted that at least 4,500 prisoners held in women’s facilities could be released through the ACP program, to date less then 200 have been.

“When we lock so many people up, it affects all of our communities, our families and our friends,” said Krys Shelley, of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners who was locked up for over 12 years in Central Valley prisons. “We need California to pay attention. We should reevaluate cases, look at the sentencing laws, look at parole and release programs. Let’s bring our loved ones home.”

Follow the Chowchilla Freedom Rally on twitter @curbprisonspending.org and #freedomrally, #chowchilla and #closevspw.

Emily Harris
Statewide Coordinator
1322 Webster St. #210
Oakland, CA 94612
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
emily [at] curbprisonspending.org

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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:05 AM

4. Chowchilla has largest women's prison in the world

all pictures by Mike Rhodes

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Response to annm4peace (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:06 AM

5. some more pictures by Mike Rhodes

I doubt the local news will show pictures or an accurate account of how many are there.

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