New Spirit of Solidarity

by Woman Prisoner, Central California Women’s Facility
I am very proud of the women at the prison here. I feel there is a new spirit of solidarity and cooperation among prisoners that can only help us. Here is what happened.
The prison decided to have their power system tested on a weekend. Something went wrong with the test and the telephones we can use were out of service. Of course, since it was the weekend, no one would come out to fix them until the following Monday. Many women, who were planning to call their families on the weekend, were now worried and frustrated.
Then on Monday, one particular guard decided to take offense at the rooming assignments. He accused two women of being lovers and ordered one of them to move to another room. We all recognize that guards have the power to change rooming assignments. What it means is that the whole unit is on lock-down while the woman is gathering her things and being moved. So no calls could be placed Monday night either and the level of worry and frustration grew.
The following day the lieutenant decided that there was no reason for the order to move, the two women were not breaking any rules and he ordered the woman to move back. So all this worry and frustration kept being built up over nothing!
I thought we needed to do something. I wrote up a complaint against the guard, detailing the situation and how the guard’s action was adding to the stress in our unit, creating morale problems and resentment, obviously for no reason. How the guards’ in-fighting takes a toll on us.
The wonderful news is that 150 women signed this complaint! And while the prison has not yet responded officially, at least one other guard told me privately that the conduct of the guard ordering the move was not professional. It is so rare that guards will break rank with each other and take our side, that I feel just an acknowledgement that we are right and the guard’s behavior was wrong feels like a victory. And we could only accomplish it together.