Deaths from Medical Neglect Continue at CCWF

JAB, CCWF
I am only writing this story because by the time it gets printed I know I will be long gone, far from Chowchilla. It’s about being very sick and trying to get some medicine to get better.
[JAB describes in detail the nightmare she endured when she got sick with a flu while at CCWF. Her co-workers wanted her to go back to her housing unit so they would not catch it. She had to get permission to see an MTA, who did determine that she was sick enough to see a doctor. The doctor prescribed Tylenol, cough syrup and antibiotics and wrote her a lay-in notice so she could
stay in bed the next day. She had to fight for several days to have the medications dispensed to her. She had to stand several hours in the rain to even have the privilege of fighting for her medications and for a few more lay-ins. She concludes:]
I felt really lucky, because I would get better, I would survive.
Today I found out that yesterday, at the same time I was fighting for my antobiotics and my lay-in, there was another woman on C yard. She was 33 years old. For three weeks she has been telling the MTAs she had run out of her high blood pressure medication. She didn’t have the energy to fight them for it. She just went to her bed and died!
Sometimes women have to have a seizure before they are able to get their seizure meds.
Our medical care sucks. We are left standing in the rain when we are truly sick. We just lose days rather than try to prove we are sick. Some of us lose our lives. It should not be allowed to happen. The MTAs are all stressed out and hate the inmates. They laugh in our faces when we beg for help. Most of them probably treat their dogs better than they treat us.
How many inmates have to die before they do something about our health care system??? It is a horrible thing to get sick in prison. Its even worse to die here because no one cares enough to listen.

The “Pin” System

Women in Dwight Women’s Prison, Illinois
In recent months the Dwight Women’s Prison installed a “pin” system in its telephone system. This new law was allegedly caused by gang members allegedly gaining too much access to trafficking drugs by means of the telephone. Now prisoners’ calls are to be tape-recorded and limited to a certain number of calls. We were told to list all the phone numbers we plan to call, list the names of persons whom we call and that we cannot call anyone else except those numbers “if they are approved.” If you need to call another number they allow you to add or delete numbers every four months.
This is a problem. Out of the population of eleven hundred women in Dwight and Kankakee, excluding the women in Dixon and Logan, Illinois, medium security prisons, 95% are mothers. Many of the women have children in Department of Children and Family Servies, separated in foster homes, often moved to different placements. Some have children in different states and cities, being cared for by different family members. Occasionally a child could be hospitalized, or in a situation of some urgency.
With this “pin” system, mothers have to wait four months to add or delete their children’s phone numbers. This causes lack of stability in communication with the child and the child’s caregivers.
Perhaps the State of Illinois doesn’t feel the necessity of the mother to keep a bond with her children after incarceration. To do this is to sentence a prisoner to excessive punishment beyond the sentencing of the court. The mental and emotional torment of a parent trying to communicate with a child on a telephone system that allows you exactly 15 minutes to talk before it cuts you off, that interrupts your call with recorded messages that “the call is from a prison,” that records all your personal thoughts and sentiments is cruel and unusual punishment by the State of Illinois.
The situation with the male prisons concerning drug trafficking should not be an excuse to legitimize causing further pain and suffering to female prisoners’ children. Women are the main caregivers of children, and separations are emotionally fatal to them. It is mandatory that they have access to visitations, mail and phone services to their mothers, without delays of four months if they are moved to a new residence in foster care or with family.
In fact, it goes back to the insensitive natures of slave keepers towards women held in slavery and the atrocities they suffered: being brutally torn apart from their offspring without any compassion. Society has a moral obligation to the thousands of children dependent upon society after they have been separated from their mothers.
Write to the legislators about how they failed to consider this problem they’ve created for mothers and children!

Medical Abuse Mounts Despite the Settlement

Linda Field, CCWF
The newspapers are filled with articles on the settlement of our medical lawsuit. People seem to believe everything is fine now, but it isn’t.
Judge William Shubb had not even signed his name to the settlement when the name of another inmate in Central California Women’s Facility was placed on another death certificate. While trying to shift blame, the truth is they just don’t care.
Since mediator Michael Keating didn’t start to monitor until December, CCWF medical staff had more than three months to ignore, misdiagnose, mistreat and kill as many inmates as they want while the people of California believe we are receiving wonderful care.
The expensive equipment housed in the Paris-Lamb Health Center is used by untrained medical staff. They told at least one inmate she was having an asymptomatic heart attack as the EKG was being done. The inmate, who felt no pain, was sent to work and spent the rest of the day terrified. The truth was that the RN reversed the leads, creating a false image.
Women are not being sent out for life-saving treatment until it is almost too late. Medications are being withheld by medical staff even though doctors have written STAT on the prescription.
And all the while, this facility, the California Department of Corrections and the state officials claim we are receiving wonderful treatment.
We have lost too many. To be slowly, deliberately killed, one by one, extracting pain needlessly is what we are faced with. It would be more humane if we were simply lined up and shot cleanly.
We beg you…. please don’t condone this. Don’t turn your backs on us.

Is Anyone Listening?

by Marcie Fort, VSPW
The isolation one feels
   In a crowd, all alone…
Memories of our families
   Memories of home…
The regrets and remorse
   All a little too late,
Fill up our hearts
   With anger and hate.
The mind games played
   Just to survive…
The suffering in silence
   The tears that are cried.
The emptiness within us
   That invades our souls…
There’s nowhere to run,
   And nowhere to go.
We create our own prisons
   Surrounded by walls…
We took the risks
   Made the choices and falls
“Life isn’t a game,
   No rehearsal” it’s said.
I bite my tongue daily,
   As I scream in my head!
“I’m not an animal
   To be abused at will!”
By my captors’ egos
   To keep me quiet and still.
So…if anyone is listening
   To my heartfelt lament
I hope you can feel me,
   That was my soul intent.

Claudia Reddy Dies at Madera Community Hospital

by Judy Greenspan
As The Fire Inside goes to press, we have learned that Claudia Reddy died early Saturday morning (February 21) in the intensive care unit at Madera Comty Hospital. Claudia, a battered woman serving 17 years to life for defending herself against a violent and abusive husband, died of respiratory failure due to the untreated uterine cancer that had spread to her lungs.
Claudia spent the last 15 years of her life in prison. The California Coalition for Women Prisoners and other prisoner advocates were involved in an intensive campaign to win the compassionate release of Claudia Reddy. Unfortunately, the hostility of both Governor Wilson and the Board of Prison Terms (parole board) toward Claudia and her crime of self-defense guaranteed that she would die in custody. Since November 1 of last year, Claudia was on life supports at the Madera hospital. Demonstrations in front of the parole board, press conferences at the hospital and a national letter-writing and fax campaign could not budge a callous and uncaring criminal injustice system.
Claudia is survived by her husband, Jerry, who was at her side as much as humanly (and superhumanly) possible throughout her incarceration and particularly during her last months of life, and by her mother and three sisters, who spent several weeks in Madera visiting their dying family member. Until her last breath, she was guarded by two armed corrections officers earning double time pay. Claudia will be remembered by all of us as a strong, caring, loving and determined woman who was unjustly incarcerated for taking action to defend her life.
Sympathy cards can be sent to the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 100 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94102. We will forward them to the family.