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We are writing to ask you to join with California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) in our statewide campaign to DROP LWOP and secure sentence commutations for all those serving Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). LWOP is an inhumane sentence which denies people the possibility to rehabilitate and change. We are asking Governor Brown to use his executive powers to commute the almost 5,000 people serving LWOP sentences to parole-eligible sentences.
Erika Rocha was 35 years old and one day away from her Youth Parole Hearing on April 15, 2016, when she committed suicide at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. Since her death, the suicide crisis at CIW has only worsened. On June 1, yet another young woman of color died at CIW. Her name is Shaylene Graves and she was 27 years old and six weeks away from returning home to her loving son, family and friends.
On Sept. 25, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1135, the prison anti-sterilization bill authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and bi-partisan co-authors and sponsored by legal and human rights organization Justice Now. The bill proceeded to the governor’s desk after passing with unanimous floor votes out of both the Senate and Assembly, with support from organizations like ACLU Northern California and Black Women for Wellness.
On Thursday, July 31, communities impacted by incarceration, immigrant detention and escalating violence against women and children will march to the site of a new women’s prison in McFarland to demand its immediate closure. Advocates will convene at McFarland Park, 100 Frontage Rd, McFarland, Calif., at 5 p.m. CDCR has contracted with the GEO Group to run the McFarland prison. The GEO group, like the state of California, has been challenged by prisoner hunger strikes, protests and lawsuits due to the deplorable and inhumane conditions of their facilities.
Two women writing to expose abuse that has terrorized them at CIW (California Institution for Women) wish not to reveal their identities for fear of more retaliation. We have no voice. There is no one to help us. PLEASE HELP! How you can help: Contact the CIW warden, Kimberly Hughes, at California Institution for Women, 16756 Chino-Corona Road, Corona, CA 92880, 909-597-1771.
Shadae Schmidt, aka Dae Dae, was a 32-year-old African-American woman who died of a heart attack on March 13, 2014, at CIW prison in Chino. We suspect her death is due to medical negligence because she had been asking for medical help for weeks. We are asking for as many people as possible to demand that the federal medical receiver’s office conduct a special review into Shadae’s death immediately.
A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the conditions and experiences inside women’s prisons.
The recent conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a male facility has led to a dramatic increase in the use of solitary confinement: Ad Seg at CCWF and the SHU at CIW. Concurrently, there have been several suicides in Ad Seg and the SHU in recent months, at least one from an alleged “overdose.” The excerpt from the letter quoted above is one of many that indicates how desperate the situation is.
Should the Commission grant this request for a hearing, we will provide the Commission with testimony from prisoners, as well as oral presentations by family members of prisoners, advocates and lawyers. We would ask that the Commission recommend to the United States government and the state of California that they immediately take all measures necessary to address grave violations of human rights in the prison system.
The CDCr are masters at pulling the wool over the eyes of the California taxpayers, activist organizations, civil and human rights organizations, religious institutions, prisoners, men and women, and state and federal courts. Their blatant disregard for the truth is rooted in their drive to build the California sector of the prison industrial slave complex.