Black and vulnerable communities have been ‘disappeared’ into California’s prisons for forty years. The price of this social abandonment is of course incalculable. How can we begin to address racism in America with a response that is anything less than unapologetically bold? Closing ten prisons in five years would be a truly bold step toward accountability and racial justice in the interest of public health.

Accomplishing our goal of closing ten prisons in five years will be hard. It will require political courage. But history is watching us, and waiting for California to finally address what are the most significant moral and ethical issues of our time. California sentences one in four women to life in prison, which is a higher proportion of women serving life sentences than anywhere else in the country.

The case for closing all women’s prisons is articulated through the lived experience of formerly and currently incarcerated women, TGI folks and their allies. It will be articulated further in CURB’s forthcoming report (2021-22) calling for the closure of all women’s prisons in California. We know that people in women’s prisons can be incredible community builders who can follow paths to wholeness–when and if they receive the respect and support they deserve. Isn’t that what all people need? If we can imagine a world without women’s prisons, what else could we achieve with a deeper shift in thinking? We hope The People’s Plan for Prison Closure sparks such a shift. 

From CURB: The People’s Plan for Prison Closure is a visionary roadmap detailing:

  • Ten prisons directly impacted people prioritized for closure, and why
  • An analysis of cost-savings to be captured and reinvested in prison-adjacent communities. 
  • Data-driven information about the roles racism and draconian sentencing continue to play in both prison expansion and overcrowding
  • The case for closing all women’s prisons in California 

Prison abolition will uplift our society’s needs. Cages are used to “solve” problems created by political actors and failed policies. People have intrinsic value that can and must not be so easily discarded. Let’s leave what we know has failed us where it belongs: in the dustbin of our state’s history. It’s time to build a stronger future for California.

CCWP will be working on the CURB report calling for the closure of all women’s prisons in California in the next year!

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