Mass Punishment Denies Women Basic Needs

by C.F., CCWF
I arrived in Chowchilla, (CCWF), from CIW in October 1990. At that time the staff, COs, sergeants, lieutenants, etc. showed each and every inmate courtesy and respect. After all, they are supposed to be role models. And for the most part the attitude was reciprocated. However, this didn’t last long!
The first of many incidents of neglect was the death of Diana Reyes in July 1991. That was the beginning of the reckless indifference and blatant neglect by the medical staff.
Unfortunately, this was not to be an isolated incident, nor was this “attitude” exclusive to the medical department.
The indifferent attitudes of the medical department at CCWF are commonplace and common knowledge. However, the problems I would like to address at this time, are the behavior and attitudes of the hierarchy in CCWF.
The Administration has demonstrated an attitude of “mass punishment.” For example, in November 1996 the inmates at CCWF were no longer allowed to purchase or posses a cigarette lighter due to an alleged lawsuit. Our lighters were confiscated and possibly sold to the women’s prison across the street, Valley State Prison for Women.
This is not only a “petty policy,” it also promotes “criminal behavior” for inmates and staff alike.
The second recent incident of this type of behavior, mass punishment, was the discontinuance of foods and personal hygiene items in packages. The administration alleges this is due to the introduction of narcotics. CCWF has expensive equipment to specifically detect narcotics that now sits, unused, collecting dust. And all of this because of an occasional incident concerning drugs, approximately 1% of the population.
For those who can’t afford to purchase their hygiene supplies: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc., at the sky high prices on CCWF canteen, these packages were their only means to take care of themselves. The hygiene items supplied by the state, only for the indigent, are, at best, inadequate.
Some require alternative diets due to medical restrictions like ulcers, gallstones, liver problems, sickle cell anemia, etc. If they can’t afford to purchase foods on canteen, they either simply do not eat or are forced to eat foods that will further aggravate their illness, only to be told by medical staff that they shouldn’t have eaten that food.
It is obvious to me that CDC is a money-making business, which we are now forced to support if we can afford to. The state of California cannot afford to supply our needs!