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.