Parole Beat

Precious Releases?
Habeas Project client, Cheryl Orange, was acquitted of all charges relating to the death of her abusive husband in 1985. Last year, a Stanislaus County judge granted her habeas petition and ordered a new trial. The D.A.’s office refused to negotiate a plea, so Cheryl was subjected to a lengthy re-trial. Cheryl was in prison for over 20 years on a 17-to-life sentence for 2nd degree murder. But now she is free!
Theresa Cruz, incarcerated survivor, won her parole on April 18, 2006, when the Board of Parole Hearings reaffirmed their earlier decision to release her?in spite of the Governor?s recommendation against release! Theresa served 15 years. Her parole comes after many years of struggle, with hundreds of you writing letters, making phone calls, coming to hearings on her behalf, and adding your prayers and heartfelt wishes for her freedom. (See Theresa?s letter)
Thanks in part to Free Battered Women for the information on releases and denials of incarcerated survivors and to the women prisoners for the information we received about their own cases.
Outrageous Denials?
Elnora Francis had her parole date reversed by the Governor on April 14, 2006. Ms. Francis has been in prison since 1985 after being convicted of 2nd degree murder for the death of her abusive husband. Now 65 years old, Ms. Francis has been granted parole twice by the parole board only to have it reversed each time by the Governor.
Sandra Redmond?s parole date was overturned on May 1, 2006. Sandra has been in prison since 1983 for killing her abusive boyfriend. She was 22 years old at the time of the incident, and her boyfriend was more than 30 years older than she was.
Minda Wilcox had her date overturned for the fourth time on May 23, 2006. Minda has served 19 years in prison on a 15-to-life sentence for a crime that occurred when she was 18 years old.
Flozelle Woodmore‘s release was reversed by Governor Schwarzenegger for the fifth time on July 27, 2006! Flozelle was 18 years old when she killed her abusive boyfriend, whom she had been dating since she was 13.

For Annie Castiglione

by Jane Dorotik, CCWF
Dear Legislator,
I am writing to you to encourage your support for greater utilization of compassionate release in the prison system. Compassionate release is an available alternative to dying alone and isolated behind prison walls ? but it is almost never granted by the CDCR bureaucracy.
Annie Castiglione is a prime example?63 years old, incarcerated for 11+ years, she maintained her innocence for the crime that sentenced her to Life Without The Possibility of Parole. She was a model prisoner and spent her years behind bars helping others.
She died the other evening alone and overlooked in the prison?s skilled nursing facility. The women in prison petitioned for her release ? but the release was not granted.
Take a moment now and remind yourself how it must feel to die alone. In fact, take only slightly more than a moment ? take 93 seconds of silence. That is one second for every day Annie waited hoping compassionate release might be granted. Surely you can spare one second for every day Annie suffered all the pain and fear in anticipation.
Start now?time yourself?93 seconds.

Are You Aware of Your Rights If You Are Pregnant?

If you are pregnant and incarcerated, you should know that a new law has gone into effect in California. Effective January 1, 2006, if you are incarcerated, you have a right to: a balanced, nutritious diet; before and after birth information and health care, including vitamins; information on childbirth and infant care; and dental cleanings.
If you give birth while you are in custody, you should NOT be shackled by your wrists, ankles or both during labor, transport to the hospital, delivery, and while in recovery after giving birth.
In monitoring conditions of confinement for pregnant women, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) has found that pregnant women are not being shackled in California from the time they leave the prison until they leave the hospital. This is a tremendous victory; it means that women can move around their rooms while they are in the hospital, that they can feed their babies and change their diapers, and they can go to the bathroom by themselves!
LSPC has also heard that women are not getting the teeth cleanings that are important to the health of their babies.
If you do not receive the above rights, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us.

CCWP Collaborates with Mills College

CCWP and Mills College recently collaborated to conduct detailed research to hear and communicate the experiences of the women inside with respect to the health care system in VSPW and CCWF. Six students from Professor Rachel Stryker?s innovative Public Interest Ethnography course at Mills College interviewed 25 women prisoners. ?Over the Wall: Women Inside?s Perspectives on Health Care in Valley State Prison for Women and Central California Women?s Facility? is the report resulting from that collaboration.
Public Interest Ethnography is a sub-field of Cultural Anthropo-logy and operates on the belief that knowledge is political, i.e. different people can use knowledge in different ways and to push an agenda. It encourages the collaboration and collectivity of community organizations and ethnographers and uses respondents as community experts in the framework of self-reflexivity.
This philosophy, as developed at Mills College, includes political explicitness, the understanding of culture as text, and a collaboration of authorship. Culture as text is the idea that culture is always evolving and never static therefore the agency lies with the community experts and the expert?s multiplicity.
The women answered three main questions regarding prison health care:
What is your understanding of the protocols that are in place for accessing health care at VSPW and CCWF?
What are your experiences with the health care at these facilities?
What are your recommendations for improving the health care system in these facilities?
The findings in the report were diverse and informative. One woman interviewed from CCWP?s Compañeras program described her experience accessing prison health care as, ?you go with the flow and learn by watching or asking.? Many Latina immigrant prisoners are confronted with the limitation of not verbally understanding the English language, but also of not having documents needed to access health care written in Español.
The Mills College report will assist CCWP in performing issue identification to identify campaign issues and to also use as a basis for discussions with the newly appointed health care receiver that includes stories from the women affected by the failed prison health care system. CCWP appreciates the opportunity to be a part of a scholarly publication to use for political education and organizing work on behalf of women inside.
Plans are currently being discussed to make the report available to the public on our website.