I have so much love for this group that helped me to be free.  These women came to visit with us as if we were a part of their family and we all came to find out later that we had actually become their family in so many ways!  

Mary Shields, formerly incarcerated for twenty years

Dear CCWP friends,

Since our founding in 1995, CCWP has fought for basic, humane health care for women and transgender people in women’s prisons.  We have insisted that reducing overcrowding is the key to improving health care and that decent health care in prison is impossible when eight prisoners are forced to live in cells built for just four.  Central to our work is that this movement is led by those most impacted by imprisonment.

This year marks the twelfth anniversary of Charisse Shumate’s passing.  Her passing was not in vain.  Not only did she initiate a groundbreaking lawsuit and help found CCWP through her efforts, but she paved the way for women like us (Samantha Rogers and Misty Rojo) to write this letter today to tell you about not only CCWP’s successes but our own personal successes inspired by Charisse Shumate and so many others.

We are living proof that this movement is most effective with the leadership of those of us who have survived incarceration.  Our efforts have led to continued success toward raising awareness and providing advocacy and support to those still imprisoned in California’s massive prison industrial complex.  And we are very excited to share our continued work and victories with you as well as ask for your vital continued support of our work.  Without your support we cannot move forward and continue this battle with the CDCR and their agents of discrimination and torture.

Some of our recent successes include:

  • In collaboration with our members inside and a coalition of organizations, family members and prison survivors, we organized the Chowchilla Freedom Rally on January 26, 2013.  Over 400 people from throughout the state traveled to CCWF to protest the inhumane overcrowded conditions as a result of the conversion of VSPW into a men’s prison.

  • Worked with Al-Jazeera News to develop a hard-hitting episode of their Faultlines show called Women Behind Bars that deals with overcrowding, sterilization and the challenges of re-entry.  (to watch go to YouTube and search Faultlines – Women Behind Bars)  .

  • Actively participated in support of the 2013 statewide prisoner Hunger Strike.  Developed a legislative memo outlining the increased use of solitary confinement in the women’s prisons due to the conversion of VSPW into a male facility.

  • Participated in Public Safety Committee and Joint Legislative Audit hearings in Sacramento about forced and coerced sterilization of female prisoners.

  • Fired Up! our weekly self-empowerment group celebrated its 2-year anniversary of working inside San Francisco County Jail, providing weekly legal advocacy, political education and re-entry support.

  • Helped initiate a city-wide coalition in San Francisco to fight the building of a new multi-million dollar county jail, and offered solidarity support to other counties battling jail construction.

  • Provided opportunities for prison survivors to educate the public by speaking at a wide range of events, from City College of San Francisco, to the United Methodist Church of Merced, to a national meeting at Columbia University on Criminal Justice and LGBTQ people.

Moving into 2014:

  • CCWP has the opportunity to sponsor legislation to expand the Alternative Custody Program to include people with manageable medical conditions through Affordable Care Act expansions.

  • Support legislation to ensure clear laws to render sterilizations for the purpose of birth control illegal in CA prisons.

  • Expose and alleviate the increased use of solitary confinement in the women’s prisons.

  • Continue to  highlight conditions such as deteriorating health care as a result of overcrowding.

  • Fight jail and prison expansions with our allies and push the state to meet the Federal judge’s order by releasing more people from prisons and jails.

  • Continue to publish The Fire Inside, oldest continuously published newsletter by, for and about people in women’s prisons

We have accomplished all this despite reducing our program coordinator staff to half-time status in 2012.  CCWP continues to thrive as an organization because we value our interconnectedness as a community.  We continue to thrive because we believe in each other and because you, our members and supporters, believe in our mission and in our vision of building a collective, caring community that struggles together for the change that is so necessary.

Moving into 2014, we need your support more than ever and we need you to reach out to others.  CCWP is a grassroots organization that knows the value of grassroots membership and involvement. We also know the importance of each individual dollar we take in.  We ask you to step up and help CCWP reach our 2014 goals by donating at least once or becoming a monthly sustainer.

Please consider pledging what you can and becoming a monthly sustainer by Clicking the Click & Pledge Donate Now button.

  • Check Recurring Payment, and indicate how many installments you want to commit to (12= one year, 24 = two years, etc.)

  • Note, if you had a Click & Pledge recurring donation last year, you will still need to renew it through our website.

If you can’t commit to a monthly donation, please make a generous one-time contribution by sending  going to our website, www.womenprisoners.org or sending a check to  CCWP, 1540 Market St., #490, SF, CA 94102.   A contribution of any amount  will make an enormous difference!

With hope in our hearts and fight in our spirits for all we can accomplish together in 2014!

In solidarity,

Misty Rojo, Samantha Rogers and Hafsah Al-Amin

California Coalition for Women Prisoners