The Power of Thought

by J., VSPW
Our thoughts can determine our well-being. Thoughts are the driver of the automobile (your body), fueled by your emotions and where you drive to is your own choice. We all have the ability to choose our states of mind, emotions, behavior and belief systems – an ability to change your biochemistry which can cause the different emotional states. The key is developing, practicing and believing in your body’s abilities – all its faculties in use and those that lay dormant.
First introspect, observing and inquiring about your emotional and behavioral inner-landscape. Then determine which emotions and behaviors are wanted and those that are unwanted and the kinds of thought associated with them.
Keep in mind: pleasant thoughts can work like anti-depressants leading to pleasant emotions and behaviors; unpleasant thoughts will work like depressants leading to unpleasant emotions and behaviors.
Remaining aware of our thoughts will help catch and stop us from engaging in negative thinking, emotions and behaviors. What many of us overlook is that we can be in control of how we experience our emotional lives. Come to know and believe that it is you who profoundly directs your body’s functions, directly and indirectly, by the simple practice of thought.

Qualifications of Medical Staff at Chowchilla’s Prisons

by Heidi Strupp and Carol Kingery
Women’s Positive Legal Action Network (Women’s PLAN) works to reduce the suffering of women prisoners with serious diseases by challenging and decreasing the medical neglect, abuse, mistreatment and discrimination this population faces. The majority of our work is informed by regular visits conducted at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) and Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW). Years of hearing women’s medical horror stories inspired us to look up selected CCWF medical staff in public records. We thought you might like to know who is providing care to women prisoners and what specialty training, if any, they have.
For those readers who have access to the internet, we found this information from the following cites:,, and We encourage you to investigate the credentials of other doctors who may be treating you or your loved ones. Secondary certifications and licensing are recorded and regularly updated by the American Medical Association and are provided in the listed sites. Doctors are required to take part in re-education programs over the course of every year. The substance of these courses are not recorded. However, any certification or residencies are noted on the web sites listed. The below information was generated using the closest approximations of the doctors names and locations of practice that were available to the staff of Women’s PLAN.
Here are some of our findings:

  • Augustine Mekkam, Chief Medical Officer, CCWF – A Chief Medical Officer of a prison oversees all medical care prisoners receive, including prisoners with serious and complicated concerns. CMO Mekkam has a certificate in Internal Medicine, is a non-member of the American Medical Association, and graduated from medical school recently in 1992. There is no record of any other specialty training or secondary certification.
  • Arani Surendra Reddy, MD – Dr. Reddy is contracted by both CCWF and VSPW to provide chemotherapy to cancer patients. Dr. Reddy has a primary practice specialty in internal medicine and is a non-member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Reddy has a certificate in Internal Medicine. There is no record of any secondary licensing or training in any other specialty such as oncology.

This is the first of a regular Women’s PLAN column in The Fire Inside.
We welcome feedback and ideas on future columns. You can reach us at: Women’s PLAN, 1611 Telegraph Ave., Ste 822, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 839-7654,

Get on the Bus; Mother’s Day Visit, May 14

Justice Partners: Women in Criminal Justice is an organization located in Los Angeles. We are planning a trip to VSPW for a Mother’s Day Celebration to reunite mothers and their children who have been unable to visit. This visit will give priority to women serving sentences of 10 years or more, who have not seen their children in the past 3 years or longer. This will be an opportunity for family reunification. We have been successful in raising much of the funding for the bus service and lunch for the children at the prison. The prison has graciously agreed to provide film for the visiting room camera so the day can be remembered by all. Should you have any questions regarding this event, or wish to donate funds to the group, please contact Linda Braun at 213/637-7637.

Youth Protest Passage of Prop. 21

by Diana Block
San Francisco, Ca. – On March 8, in the wake of its disastrous electoral approval of the Proposition 21 (youth gang initiative), around 500 youth (a truly multinational group), and some older ones of us, gathered at Powell and Market. After a rally which included reference to the fact that today is International Women?s Day and that young women have been in the forefront of the battle against 21, we took to the streets marching up Powell, stopping traffic, and chanting vigorously the whole time. The spirit was angry, militant and very organized and disciplined. When we arrived at the SF Hilton, which had donated funds to Prop. 21, most people entered the hotel en masse, occupying the entire lobby area for about an hour. The speakers, chanting and teaching totally disrupted the Hilton’s privileged space. When the police gave their warning that all who remained would be arrested, about 100 protesters stayed. Under 18 folks were taken to Mission Police Station and demonstrators joined them in front of the station to show support. Overall I was really moved by the combination of spirit and youth self-organization of this protest which I hope is generating a counter-statement to the ballot box’s racist manipulations against youth in this state.