On Monday August 6th, a hundred people from all over California came together to lobby for the passage of SB 1393 and rally to DROP LWOP sentencing in a day coordinated by CCWP and CURB.  Below is a quick, heartfelt summary of the day by Pam Fadem from CCWP with some photos.
Delegation that went to deliver the letter signed by over 100 organizations calling on
Governor Brown to commute all 5,000 people with LWOP sentences in California prisons.

It was WONDERFUL– TONS of formerly incarcerated people, lots of amazing family members, many visits to legislators, and a VERY beautiful and spirited rally — with incredible statements from people inside and former prisoners, and beautifully and powerfully displayed with people wearing DROP LWOP t-shirts (thank you Angel and Christina), ribbons (thank you June!!), amazing posters of our loved ones serving LWOP (thank you Anna H and  Grace!!), lots of homemade signs and banners—There was never a lull or a low point.

We were able to walk all of the materials collected into his office and do a hand off to the Governor’s Assistant Director of external affairs. Two family members of  people serving LWOP –Joanne Scheer and Christina Mendoza– did the drop off, and it was very emotional for everyone–

This is clearly  a growing campaign/ movement—  It was beautiful, powerful  and filled with emotion!

The box delivered to the Governor had  three 8 ft paper banners made by  people at Central California Women’s Facility — full of their handprints, signatures and family photos, over 30 statements from people serving LWOP, the official letter to the Governor calling on him to commute all currently serving LWOP signed by over 100 community organizations. It was a stunning sight.

Let’s keep the pressure up, the work  growing and continue to welcome our loved ones home.


Banner created by people at CCWF


Colby, Romarilyn, & Yolanda
Rojas, Romarilyn & Jackie



Over 5000 people are serving LWOP (Life Without the Possibility of Parole) sentences in California prisons. People of color are disproportionately sentenced to LWOP and of the nearly 200 people serving LWOP in CA women’s prisons, the overwhelming majority are survivors of abuse, including intimate partner battering, childhood abuse, sexual violence, and sex trafficking.  Life without parole is an inhumane sentence. It denies that people have the capacity to change, grow and be rehabilitated.

As Governor Brown nears the end of his term, he has granted an unprecedented number of commutations for people serving LWOP sentences.  Commuting a sentence does not guarantee release from prison, but it does guarantee that each person will have the right to see the Parole Board in their lifetime, rather than being sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison under a “living death penalty.”

Over 100 organizations have signed a letter asking Governor Brown to commute the sentences of all people serving Life Without Parole in California’s prisons to parole-eligible sentences.  We will be delivering the letter to Governor Brown’s office.  Come to Sacramento on August 6th!

RSVP for August 6 DROP LWOP Rally/Lobby Day at



“For the first time in more than 38 years, I’ll be able to celebrate with my daughter. I am deeply grateful to Governor Brown for granting me this tremendous opportunity to live a better life.” – Kenneth Hartman, formerly serving Life Without Parole (LWOP)

Dear friends,

Please join with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) in asking Governor Brown to commute more women, men and transgender people with LWOP sentences this Father’s Day 2018. 

Below is a short message you can email to the Governor’s office. Please bcc info@womenprisoners.org on your message and check out our new DROP LWOP website for more information about the campaign.

Sample Message to Governor Brown
Email address: leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
Dear Governor Brown,
I join with Kenneth Hartman, one of the men whose LWOP sentence you have generously commuted, in urging you to commute more LWOP sentences for Father’s Day.

“I am one of the fortunate few who had their sentence of LWOP commuted to life with parole last year. Consequently, I have now been out of prison for 6 months.  It is particularly meaningful to me to be out for this Fathers’ Day.  For the first time in more than 38 years, I’ll be able to celebrate with my daughter.  I am deeply grateful to Governor Brown for granting me this tremendous opportunity to live a better life, and I cannot adequately express how much this has positively impacted my family.  I hope and pray that many more men and women serving LWOP will have a chance to live this better life.”
Kenneth Hartman

I applaud the historic number of LWOP commutations that you have granted and hope that you will continue to recognize that people have the capacity to change, grow and be rehabilitated, which an LWOP sentence denies.

Looking forward to your Father’s Day commutations!
Thank you,



Join CCWP for the Drop LWOP Town Hall

Share the Facebook Invite

In the past six months six women have had their Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences commuted by the Governor. At the end of January 2018 two of these women were found suitable for parole and will soon be free. This victory illustrates how the Drop LWOP Campaign and A Living Chance project are creating a foundation for the commutation of all people sentenced to LWOP and the  elimination of LWOP  from the penal code altogether.

At the Drop LWOP Town Hall  you will

  • learn updates about the Drop LWOP campaign
  • hear audio from A Living Chance Storytelling to End Life Without Parole
  • engage with a panel of formerly incarcerated women, including survivors of the life without parole sentence
  • learn how you can get involved

When: Saturday, March 24 from 5-8pm
Where: Red Bay Coffee Roastery, Bar & Garden, 3098 E 10th St, Oakland (Near Fruitvale Bart)

Featuring food from Mamacitas Cafe, a raffle and items for sale made by people living inside women’s prisons.

Donations Requested: $5-20. No one turned away for lack of funds.

info@womenprisoners.org, 415-255-7036 x 4

Lawsuit Filed Denouncing Assaults on Trans & Queer Prisoners at CCWF

Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and Queer Prisoners say “me too”: Lawsuit Filed Denouncing Assaults at The Central California Women’s Facility

On November 9, 2017 four people of color – a transgender man, a gender non-conforming person and two queer female prisoners – who were all at one time incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), filed a lawsuit against the State of California and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).  The lawsuit denounces two vicious assaults where correctional officers beat up, sexually harassed, hurled homophobic and transphobic insults at, and tormented the plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs were then denied medical treatment for their injuries and were prevented from filing grievances about the assaults they had experienced.  The assaults are particularly reprehensible because the plaintiffs are all survivors of sexual trauma and violence and were assaulted while advocating for their basic human rights.

The assaults originally took place on November 11, 2015, when Stacy Rojas, a gender non-conforming former prisoner was brutally attacked by correctional officers after warning that they intended to complain to the prison’s internal investigation unit about repeated harassment by guards regarding their gender.  Rojas’ cell mates were subsequently attacked when they indicated that they would report the use of excessive force against Rojas.  All three were then confined for nearly twelve hours in small programming cages and subject to sexually humiliating and abusive treatment.  This included having their clothing cut off of their bodies, having their breasts and chests stomped on by guard boots, and being told that male guards could “show them what a real man is” while making reference to the size of their penises.  They were then put in solitary confinement without cause and without receiving medical treatment for their injuries or being allowed to use the restroom.

When all three plaintiffs attempted to use the internal system of accountability designed to report abuses inside prisons, they were obstructed. Their original complaints were claimed to have been lost and then mentioned in response to future complaints as a reason to not investigate follow-up reports. Furthermore, they were never informed by the CDCR of conclusive results of any investigation into the incidents. The legal complaint submitted by the law offices of Siegel and Yee seeks the creation of a system of true accountability for excessive use of force, sexualized violence, and targeting of transgender, gender non-conforming and queer prisoners by guards against prisoners as well as freedom from retaliation for reporting such violations.

Released in January 2017, Rojas is now part of the legal advocacy team working on the case, they are committed to making a difference for those still in prison: “Most of us are inside because of the histories of violence and abuse that we experienced and then got caught up in.  Just because we are in prison doesn’t mean that we should not have our basic human rights protected.  I do not want anyone else to go through what I did.  My fellow inmates use to tell me that I was singled out because of my gender and because I advocated for myself and others.  We have a right to stand up for ourselves and to take care of each other.”

On January 5, 2017, Isaac Medina, a transgender prisoner at CCWF, was denied access to his medication.  When he asked why he was being denied, he was then attacked violently by multiple guards.  At the time of the attack, Medina was in a wheelchair and during the incident he was also denied the accommodations he was entitled to under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  During the course of the attack he endured physical brutality and sexually humiliating treatment, such as having his pants pulled down to his ankles throughout the attack and having his head smashed against a brick wall.  Medina, was also placed in a programming cage and not allowed to use the bathroom after the attack.  Further, he was denied medical treatment for his injuries.

According to Sara Kershnar of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, “These incidents are part of a pattern of abuse at CCWF, part of a climate of increasing violence employed by correctional officers at CCWF against transgender, gender non-conforming and queer women prisoners.  They represent a backlash against hard-won legal rights for trans people in prison, such as the right to access hormone therapy.  They reflect officer resentment about changing cultural norms regarding gender identity.  They also re-traumatize people who have suffered sexual violence and homophobia and transphobia before they were incarcerated.”

This is a moment of exploding social awareness in this country about the pervasiveness of sexual  harassment and violence by those in power against vulnerable people.  This case shines a light on predatory practices by correctional officers that target people who are marginalized within women’s prisons based upon their gender identification and sexuality.  The plaintiffs’ demand systemic policy changes in the prisons to prevent such types of abuse and prejudice in the future.