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California hunger strike: Statement of solidarity from incarcerated women across Massachusetts

July 13, 2013

by members of the Prison Birth Project

July 8, 2013 – As prisoners across the country prepare to strike, our hearts and thoughts are with them. As incarcerated women we know firsthand many of the abuses the strikers face on a daily basis – as well as many of the repercussions they may face in retaliation for the action against this abuse.

Pregnant woman prisoner
Four to 7 percent of women prisoners are pregnant, and 85 percent are mothers, many losing their children permanently because they are imprisoned. In California, the one main women’s prison is packed to nearly double its capacity and suicides are soaring. A recent report revealed that 148 women prisoners in California had been sterilized without their consent between 2006 and 2010.
As incarcerated mothers, we experience lack of access to healthy food, lack of respect, autonomy and access to health care, lack of access to children – and we are regularly set up by the system to fail.

As we stand in solidarity with striking prisoners, we ask you to stand in solidarity with us. Not just on July 8 – but every day of the year. To be in solidarity with us, we need folks from outside to come inside! Being behind the wall is hard, and we need support while we are here, so when we get out we can be leaders. We need allies to be here both inside and out, to support us in creating space and community, to come together and be leaders. We need to be leaders because we are the experts.

We are here. We need folks to listen from their heart and be by our side when we are ready to speak, to strike and to stand out. We need allies to rally in support of policies inside and out so we can survive while we are here and thrive when we get out. We need allies to help us break down the wall between men and women inside – to help us bridge the gap and support our families through the realities of the criminal system.

We need support while we are here, so when we get out we can be leaders. We need to be leaders because we are the experts.

Because of our experience, we are the experts on these issues and we ask that all allies, reformers, abolitionists, lawyers, legislators and our families work together, come together around the realities – not rhetoric – and help us move mountains and break down the walls in supportive and sustainable ways physically, spiritually, politically and personally.

To learn more, go to www.theprisonbirthproject.org.

 

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