CCWP Co-Sponsors AB 1764 -Sterilization Compensation


Kelli Dillon, center, and team after Kelli testified at the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee passed AB 1764 – the Forced Sterilization Compensation Program Bill, authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo.  AB 1764 would provide victim compensation to survivors of California state sponsored sterilization between 1909 and 1979; and survivors of involuntary sterilizations in women’s state prisons after 1979. 

 The bill, which is co-sponsored by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) would make California the third state in the nation to provide compensation for survivors who were sterilized under state eugenics laws and the first to offer compensation to survivors of involuntary sterilizations at women’s state prisons.

 The number of people sterilized under the 1909 eugenics law in California account for one third of all the recorded sterilizations that occurred in the United States in the 20th century. All those affected lived in state institutions and were classified as having disabilities or were deemed “unfit for reproduction” by state entities. It is important to note that administrators of the law at the time had broad discretion in practice to decide who was classified as “unfit.” The majority of sterilizations were done on women and girls, and disproportionately impacted Latinas, who were 59% more likely to be sterilized than non-Latinas. 

 “For 70 years, it was legal for Californians to be sterilized just because they were disabled or somebody thought they were disabled. California’s Sterilization Compensation Bill helps provide redress to disabled survivors who were wrongly sterilized against their will,” said Susan Henderson, Executive Director, DREDF. “Taking responsibility for this injustice is the necessary next step to guard against future state-sanctioned abuse and discrimination.”

 While California’s eugenic law was repealed in 1979, a subsequent state audit revealed that at least 144 people had been sterilized during labor and delivery without proper consent while incarcerated in California women’s prisons from 2006 to 2010. Further research indicates that an additional 100 involuntary sterilizations were performed during labor and delivery with an additional small number of other coerced or involuntary sterilizations happening during other surgeries in the late 1990’s.  As with the sterilizations performed under California’s eugenics law, the sterilizations disproportionately affected people of color.

 “The sterilizations at the women’s prisons primarily targeted Black and Brown women as well as poor white women,” said Hafsah Al-Amin, CCWP Program Coordinator. “They were intended to stop the reproduction of a population whom the state would rather see caged, disenfranchised and infertile.”

 Eugenic sterilization programs are now considered a major human rights abuse. California officials apologized for this historical wrong in 2003. Recently the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors issued a public apology for the non-consensual tubal ligations of Mexican-origin women at USC/LA County Hospital in the 1960s-1970s, yet the history and legacy of California’s eugenics laws are little known. 

 “The legacy of California’s eugenics law is well-known and as the prison sterilizations show, the repercussions continue to be felt,” said Laura Jimenez, Executive Director, CLRJ. “As reproductive justice advocates, we recognize the insidious impact state-sponsored policies have on the dignity and rights of poor women of color who are often stripped of their ability to form the families they want. This bill is a step in the right direction in remedying the violence inflicted on these survivors.”

 This bill would help compensate verified survivors of California’s eugenic sterilization program and involuntary sterilizations at California women’s state prisons as well as establish markers at designated sites that acknowledge the compulsory sterilization of thousands of people in the state, raising awareness of the unjust sterilizations of thousands of people. Although monetary compensation cannot adequately address the harm suffered by sterilization survivors, it is a material acknowledgement of this wrong.

About California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) CLRJ is a statewide organization committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas to uphold our dignity, our bodies, sexuality, and families. We build Latinas’ power and cultivate leadership through community education, policy advocacy, and community informed research to achieve Reproductive Justice. Learn more about California Latinas for Reproductive Justice at www.californialatinas.org
About Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), founded in 1979, is a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. DREDF works to advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development. Learn more about DREDF at https://dredf.org/
About California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) CCWP is a grassroots social justice organization, with members inside and outside prison, that challenges the institutional violence imposed on women, transgender people, and communities of color by the prison industrial complex (PIC). We see the struggle for racial and gender justice as central to dismantling the PIC and we prioritize the leadership of the people, families, and communities most impacted in building this movement. Learn more at https://womensprisoners.org

Brown grants 73 More Commutations for People with LWOP!

 

CCWP is so happy to share the news that on December 24, 2018 Governor Brown granted 73 more commutations for people with Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences.  13 of these are for people in women’s prisons most of whom CCWP has supported with their commutation process.  60 are for people in men’s prisons. Brown also granted 58 commutations for people with other sentences and 143 pardons. Copies of the gubernatorial commutations and pardons can be found at:

 https://www.gov.ca.gov/2018/12/24/governor-brown-grants-executive-clemency-4/

Through his unprecedented number of  LWOP commutations Brown is recognizing the injustice of LWOP and other forms of extreme sentencing.  Thank you to all who have supported the DROP LWOP campaign in so many ways!

Let’s build the momentum in 2019 with Governor-elect Newsom to win commutations for all 5,000+ people with LWOP sentences and end LWOP and all forms of extreme sentencing!

CCWP Victories in 2018

“You encouraged me to tell my story, then you actually listened. You made others listen.  You CARED.”

-Laverne Dejohnette, LWOP sentence commuted by Gov. Brown on 8/17/18

Dear CCWP Community,

2018 has been a year of important victories and significant growth for CCWP. We are especially thrilled that our DROP LWOP campaign has contributed to an unprecedented number of commutations for people with LWOP (Life Without Parole) sentences by Governor Brown. So far, 17 people in women’s  prisons and 55 people in men’s prisons received commutations dropping their LWOP sentences!! Governor Brown has commuted an additional 80 people from life or long-term sentences. Several women formerly sentenced to LWOP who we work closely with have now been released after their successful Parole Board hearings. They now add their powerful leadership, commitment and experience to work outside prison.

We have been able to build the campaign with the critical leadership of many formerly incarcerated people, family members, advocates and organizations. Most crucially we have progressed with the full participation of people in the women’s prisons in all aspects of the campaign. See The Fire Inside #58 for more details.

We Will Continue to Expand DROP LWOP in 2019 With Your Help!

Some of our plans for DROP LWOP in 2019 include:

  • Reaching out to Governor-elect Newsom to urge him to commute the sentences of all 5,200+ people currently serving LWOP in California, and ultimately to eliminate LWOP from the California Penal code.
  • Planning a statewide strategy session about the elimination of LWOP sentencing with representatives from organizations doing similar work in other states.
  • Hiring a dedicated staff person to anchor the campaign.

    More Highlights of Our Work in 2018

    • Co-sponsorship and advocacy for important legislation signed into law including SB 1437, BESTT Practices Act, which changes CA’s felony murder law and will bring sentencing relief for a significant population of people in women’s prisons; AB 2533, Dignity and Care Act, improving access to basic needs for prisoners in poverty; SB 1393, Fair & Just Sentencing Reform Act, to end the mandatory application of the 5-year sentence enhancement for serious priors; SB 960, Annual Reporting on Suicides, requiring CDCR reporting on suicides and suicide attempts and improving suicide prevention practices; AB 2845, Pardon & Commutation Reform Act, increasing transparency and accessibility in the pardon and commutation process.
    • Building the #MeToo Behind Bars lawsuit and campaign which challenges a pattern of brutal physical and sexual assault against trans, gender non-conforming and queer people in the women’s prisons.
    • Growing a strong, vital chapter in Los Angeles which includes a formerly incarcerated CCWP program fellow, expanded prison visiting teams to CIW, and monthly prison correspondence gatherings. The L.A. chapter held a very successful Benefit Art Auction in August, a major energizer for CCWP’s grassroots fundraising efforts.
    • Participation in a number of major national conferences, including the FreeHer conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 2018; the FICPFM conference in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 2018; and the National Women’s Studies Association conference, Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 2018.
    • Moving our office to the new Freedom and Movement Center building in Oakland, purchased by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, home to LSPC, All of Us or None, CCWP and more.

    All of this crucial work requires resources

    • Salaries for our expanding staff and fellows.
    • Expenses for prison visits including car rentals, gas and food for the people we visit.
    • Stipends for the formerly incarcerated members of our Spitfire Speakers’ Bureau.
    • Printing and mailing costs for The Fire Inside newsletter.

    Please accept our invitation to be part of this work in 2019 by becoming a monthly sustainer. If this isn’t possible, please make a generous year-end donation now. Please also consider planning a legacy gift for the future through a bequest, a living trust or a beneficiary designation.

    All donations of $100 or more will receive a packet of hand-crafted cards, created by former political prisoner Linda Evans, as a thank you for your generous support.

     

    Please help us build on our successes of 2019 which have moved forward our core commitment to decarceration and advanced the building of community across prison walls based on justice and love.

 

CCWP Benefit Film Showing

BENEFIT FOR #METOO BEHIND BARS LAWSUIT
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2018, 3 PM

NEW PARKWAY THEATER – 474 24th St, OAKLAND

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM FILM 

PANEL with Rojas – CCWP,

Maria Moore – Justice for Kayla Moore,

Jen Orthwein – Transgender Advocacy Group

PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS

Four plaintiffs who have been incarcerated at the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CCWF, have filed the #MeToo Behind Bars lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The plaintiffs all identify as transgender, gender non-conforming (GNC) or queer. The lawsuit denounces physical assaults, sexual harassment and homophobic/ transphobic insults by correctional officers against them.  Rojas, one of the plaintiffs in the case will be part of a panel discussion after the film.

Southwest of Salem   tells the story of four Latina lesbians who were wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two young girls in the early 1990’s in San Antonio, Texas. They spent decades in prison before finally being exonerated.  Their prosecution and conviction was the product of a homophobic culture and criminal legal system.  Now trans, GNC and queer people are facing persecution in California’s women’s prisons as a result of similar attitudes and a prison power structure that condones them.

Sponsored by California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Endorsed by California Prison Focus, Copwatch, Critical Resistance, CUAV, Justice for Kayla Moore, Survived & Punished, Transgender Advocacy Group

For more information contact info@womenprisoners.org or call 415-255-7036 ext. 4