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.
by Judy Greenspan