Janet Holloway Africa and Janine Phillips Africa have been released from state custody after 40 years of incarceration. The sisters have been battling for their freedom after being consistently denied parole despite their stellar record and community service endeavors while behind bars.
I am speaking to how I personally feel about the disparity in justice for the rich and the poor, the people who have friends and family that are willing to fight and those who don’t and who are left with no voice. I have been all alone in my fight for freedom some 30 or so years. I have no family who speaks out, I was too young to have friends and the few that I do have now are ones that I have met since my incarceration.
Celebrate Dr. Espanola Jackson Day on her birthday, Feb. 9, with the San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point community. We take this opportunity to honor the memory of Espanola as a community leader during Black History Month. For details of the event, which will be held in the Alex Pitcher Room at the Southeast Community Center, go to the Facebook and register your RSVP online with Eventbrite. All are welcome. Spread the word.
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.
This year at Holman in Atmore, Alabama, there have been five suicides in its segregation unit – more suicides or homicides than in its population. The latest was a mentally ill young man in his 20s. The conditions in the Administrative Segregation housing wings at the H.H. Coffield Unit located at Tennessee Colony, Texas are horrible, and these conditions have driven prisoners to suicide, approximately 13 deaths just this year! We need the broadest exposure of this horrifying trend.
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.
Beverly Henry died. I just got the email today. The state of California owes women prisoners their lives back – imagine going into prison healthy and leaving with a terminal illness. This is the case for many of the women there. Beverly Henry told me to tell her story and I plan to begin right now. A warrior to the end, it was her voice that told women to stand up for their rights even perhaps especially behind bars.
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.
At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children’s 35th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19, headlined by Dr. Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander, I noticed immediately the “logo,” a phoenix rising from the ashes, the theme for California Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Anniversary celebration of the Fire Inside two years ago. All of Us or None is 10 years old now, and LSPC at 35 is the parent of CCWP.
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.
We are seeking your participation in a very unusual event – a day-long grassroots lobbying visit to the California State Capitol led by formerly incarcerated people on May 13, 2013. We invite our brothers and sisters, supporters, allies, friends and comrades to join us and support the formerly incarcerated members of our community who have been rendered silent.
Young women at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally Jan. 26 spoke out passionately for their sisters in a prison packed to nearly double its capacity, demanding that the 4,500 prisoners eligible for release be freed. At least 400 people came from all over California to show their support for the women locked up in the Central California Women’s Facility, currently the state’s only women’s prison.
The Clean Lounge, a clean and sober space located in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, was full of Fired Up! women and supporters, family and friends.There was so much collective healing wisdom in the room. Fired Up! is an insider-outsider grassroots network founded by CCWP former prisoners that meets weekly in the San Francisco County Jail.