Lack of Mental Health Care at VSPW Puts Everyone at Risk

by Rahima Walker
I was incarcerated at VSPW. The day before Christmas we received a new roommate. She arrived with a pungent stench. One of my roommates remembered her from a previous yard and told us, “She had mental health issues.” I immediately alerted my housing staff and was told to “give it a try.”
One day when one of my roommates went to use the restroom, there was body waste on the toilet. We knew who had just used the restroom, so we asked our new roommate to clean up her mess. She denied that it was hers. When another roommate went to shower (showers are in the room) she found clots of blood and tissue on the shower floor. Once again we asked the new roommate to clean up her mess, but she replied that God was punishing her by pouring blood on her, and that she was a man, not a woman. I went to our housing staff again. The Sergeant made a psych referral, but refused to move her pending a report from the psych staff. When she went to the psych appointment she told pysch that “it was a one time thing.”
We continued to clean up blood and feces monthly, constantly complained about it, and then wrote a 602. The Lieutenant spoke to one of my roommates and told her she was in prison and was not able to pick her roommates, but promised we would get PPE (personal protective equipment). We never received the promised PPE and the housing staff made sarcastic comments about the situation. It did not even matter that she was on psychotropic drugs that were making her more unstable.
Not only did we constantly clean up her bodily wastes, she also talked to herself all night long while standing over the bed of another. Staff was well aware of it, but never did another psych referral. When our 602 was denied we took it to another level, and then finally took it to the Warden. The Warden finally resolved the situation. The mental health care is awful in CDCR. There is one RN on each yard and one RNP for 2,000 women. This must be addressed.