Before and After: Prison Continues Domestic Abuse

Debi Zuver, Central California Women’s Facility
II had just gone through so much? A man, my
abuser, threatened to kill me and I had defended
myself. I was semi-conscious when the cops
pulled me out of the closet I was in and the next
thing I knew was that I was being slammed on the
floor and then stuck on a gurney. All this
happened so fast I couldn’t comprehend what was
going on.
Once I got to jail, I was stripped by two women
officers and then was left naked on the floor of
the cell while a man from “mental health”
services kept looking in to see if I had tried to
kill myself. Every 15 minutes they would come by
to ask various weird questions which were meant
to establish my mental ability.
Finally I was taken to the shower to clean up
because I wouldn’t bathe for four days since the
shower was in stalls placed in the center of a
unisex mental health module. It was very
degrading – I no longer had any privacy
whatsoever! Then I was placed in an observation
cell which was all windows with the light on all
the time. I felt like a bug under a microscope.
Because the tank was in the mental health module,
there was constant yelling and screaming and the
noise kept echoing making it even louder than it
already was. And the cops would stand outside
the women’s cells, women who already had mental
health problems, and whisper horrible things to
them, trying to make them think that these things
were the voices in their heads.
When I was finally brought out to go to court, I
was in waist chains with both hands cuffed at my
waist. This was the beginning of my understanding
how the domestic violence I had experienced would
be continued again and again by the prison system.