News & Updates

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Take Action to Support Justice for Survivors

Assembly Bill 124 (Kamlager) supports survivors of violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking, by providing trauma-informed charging, sentencing, and resentencing relief by requiring judges to give great weight to the impact of trauma on the person’s behavior.

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In blistering ruling Federal judge orders video surveillance & body cams in 5 CA prisons to stop abuse of men & women with disabilities

On Thursday, March 11, Senior U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken handed down a blistering ruling that ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to institute a series of changes with which the judge hopes to put a stop to what she describes as a pattern of systemic abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities at five of the state’s prisons.

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Stop Ice Deportations! #100DaysforFreedom

CWP is continuing the campaign to stop the ICE hold and potential deportation of member Gabriella Solano-Gabby as early as next week. Gabby was attempting to leave an 8 years abusive relationship, but instead was incarcerated for over 20 years for her abuser’s deadly actions. Gabby must be protected & shouldn’t face double punishment on the day of her release!

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Mary J. Blige writes for survivors, those who want to survive

After watching the documentary “Belly of the Beast,” Mary J. Blige was incredulous. “I could not believe what I was seeing,” Blige said. “But somewhere in the back of my mind, all my life, I always felt like women weren’t being treated properly in prisons. Black women were just being treated like slaughtered pigs.”

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Vulnerable Inmates Left in Prison as Covid Rages

The Danbury Federal Correction Institution in Connecticut is one of three federal prisons that were singled out for prompt action last spring by former Attorney General William Barr because of its vulnerability to Covid outbreaks. At a federal compound in Connecticut, inmates in precarious health “are like sitting ducks,” one lawyer said.

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‘A living hell’: Inside US prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic

Featuring CCWP members, prisoners and their families describe the emotional, physical and financial toll of the pandemic. Restrictions have fluctuated during the various lockdowns implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the 11 months since the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) first banned visitations across state prisons, Harris says she has seen the mental health of those around her steadily deteriorate.

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No End In Sight: America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment

Before America’s era of mass incarceration took hold in the early 1970s, the number of individuals in prison was less than 200,000. Today, it’s 1.4 million; and more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every seven in prison. More people are sentenced to life in prison in America than there were people in prison serving any sentence in 1970.

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Introducing Groundingbreaking Legislation: The Sentencing Reform Act of 2021

Today Senator Dave Cortese announced SB 300, The Sentencing Reform Act of 2021 (co-sponsored by CCWP and others), to reform California’s unjust “felony murder special circumstance” law and ensure that the death penalty and life without the possibility of parole cannot be imposed on those who did not kill, nor intend that a person die, during a crime.

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CCWF Updates: Continued Care Needed – Valentine’s Week Action

Over the past six weeks, COVID has cycled rapidly through Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). Now reported cases have decreased significantly; we attribute the decline in numbers to the care people gave each other inside. Join CCWP in a Valentine’s Day action to celebrate collective care through collective action.

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On the Need for Health Justice in the Prison System

In need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant for leukemia and positive for COVID, DeReta Steverson, incarcerated at the California Institution for Women (CIW), is still not eligible for compassionate release in California, even under the state’s much-hyped release program.

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Cómo una cárcel de mujeres de California se convirtió en la que tuvo más contagios de coronavirus en EEUU / How One Women’s Prison in California Became an Epicenter for Covid-19 in the United States

Las sobrevivientes cuentan las condiciones a las que fueron sometidas y las secuelas que aún persisten incluso después de recuperarse. / In an interview with Univision News 14, the survivors describe how those who tested positive for the virus were punished and how the aftermath haunts them even after recovering.

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The Movement to Defund the Police Won’t Go Away When Biden Takes Office

Aminah Elster says CCWP is working to “wrap up our efforts to maintain communication with folks on the inside, and also fighting to make sure that they are not overlooked in this pandemic.” The group is growing their pen pal training program since there is currently no in-person visitation, continuing their “survival and release advocacy work,” and raising money in response to COVID to help currently and formerly incarcerated people with their necessities.

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URGENT ACTION: COVID Outbreak in CCWF

COVID cases are rising rapidly at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) with over 200 people testing positive. We are hearing from incarcerated people that conditions are rapidly deteriorating. Join CCWP and take urgent action now.

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A Year of Collective Care: 2020 Reflections

We cannot overstate the gravity of trying to survive a pandemic in prisons that were already a public health crisis, under the watch of guards who do not value your life, in an institution with medical care that is either horrible or non-existent. But in all the darkness, we were amazed by the light—the courage, resilience, collective care, and fighting spirit of our currently incarcerated members.

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Human Rights Day Action

Life Without Parole is a Death Sentence. This Human Rights Day, Thursday December 10th call on the Governor to use his power of clemency – a power only he has – to commute the sentences of people with Life Without Parole (LWOP).

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Historic Racial Justice Act Is Signed!

Governor Signs Landmark Legislation Advancing Racial Justice in California. A historic, first-of-its-kind law in the State, the California Racial Justice Act – co-sponsored by CCWP – prohibits the use of race, ethnicity, or national origin in sentencing and convictions.

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Welcome Home Patricia!

CCWP welcomes Patricia Wright, home amid COVID-19 prison outbreaks. Patricia Wright, a 69-year-old Black mother and grandmother, survivor of domestic violence, and terminally-ill cancer patient, was released today under emergency order from Governor Newsom.

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#FreeOurElders for Mother’s Day

Please join us this weekend in the fight to free incarcerated mothers. The #BringThemHome Call to Action is a collective effort to call on Governor Newsom to grant clemencies and IMMEDIATELY release elders who are at extremely high risk of death and fighting for their lives.

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Newsom Grants 21 Commutations!

Governor Newsom granted 21 commutations and five pardons on Friday, March 27, 2020. CCWP welcomes Governor Newsom’s exercise of executive clemency for all of these people and we commend him for examining the public health impact of each commutation grant.

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Vigil for Vickie Lee Hammonds

Vickie Lee Hammonds, a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and beloved by many others, died from medical neglect at the California Institution for Women (CIW) on June 5, 2019. She was only 55 years old.

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#MeToo Behind Bars Rally

On Wednesday October 30th, over sixty people rallied in front of the CDCr office building in Sacramento to demand an end to the sexual and gender-based violence that has targeted trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people in California’s prisons.

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CCWP Victories in 2018

“You encouraged me to tell my story, then you actually listened. You made others listen.  You CARED.” -Laverne Dejohnette, LWOP sentence commuted by Gov. Brown on 8/17/18 Dear CCWP Community, 2018

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CCWP Benefit Film Showing

BENEFIT FOR #METOO BEHIND BARS LAWSUIT SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2018, 3 PM NEW PARKWAY THEATER – 474 24th St, OAKLAND SOUTHWEST OF SALEM FILM  PANEL with Rojas – CCWP, Maria Moore –

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CALIFORNIA COALITION FOR WOMEN PRISONERS ANNOUNCES BENEFIT AUCTION TO COMBAT MASS INCARCERATION Artworks by Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Louise Lawler, Janiva Ellis, Laurie Simmons, Torey Thornton and more exclusively on Paddle8

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DROP LWOP TOWN HALL

  Join CCWP for the Drop LWOP Town Hall Share the Facebook Invite In the past six months six women have had their Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences commuted by the Governor.

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DROP LWOP! LETTER TO GOVERNOR BROWN

Dear Friends and Colleagues: We are writing to ask you to join with California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) in our statewide campaign to DROP LWOP and secure sentence commutations

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CIW June 1 Vigil Highlights

Thank you to the families of #ShayleneGraves, #ErikaRocha & everyone who came out and supported our Vigil on June 1 at CIW women’s prison. Together we honored Shaylene “Light Blue”

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PRESS RELEASE – CIW VIGIL THURSDAY JUNE 1

For Immediate Release – May 30, 2017 CONTACTS Colby Lenz, California Coalition for Women Prisoners colby@womenprisoners.org Sheri Graves, mother of Shaylene Graves Sherimgraves@gmail.com Psychological Torture Continues at Women’s Prison Families,

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Support the Family of Denise Gomez!

Please join CCWP in helping Denise Gomez’ family raise money for her funeral. Denise died by suicide two weeks ago while incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility. CCWP had

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SHOUT THEIR NAMES – A TOWN HALL

Dear Community, In response to another preventable and tragic death, advocates at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) are reaching out to ally organizations in the Bay to call

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REST IN POWER SHAYLENE

Dear community, Yet another young woman of color died at the California Institution for Women (CIW) two weeks ago today. Her name is Shaylene Graves and she was 27 years

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#FreeBlueSky Parole Update

This week the California Board of Parole Hearings denied Rickie Blue-Sky parole for the 5th time. We come together outraged by how the State of California continues to punish Blue-Sky

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Violence & Medical Neglect at CCWF

For Immediate Release – Monday, November 23, 2015 Imprisoned People, Family Members and Organizers Speak Out Press Contact: Dolores Canales, Family Unity Network, (714)290-9077 dol1canales@gmail.com  or Hannah McFaull, Justice Now,

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Join CCWP for two benefit performances of Mariposa & the Saint and a conversation about the shocking conditions in California’s women’s prisons and what can be done to change them.

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Act Now to Free Kelly Savage!

Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout Petitioning Attorney General Kamala Harris https://www.change.org/p/kamala-harris-free-kelly-domestic-violence-survivor-serving-her-19th-year-in-prison-for-a-crime-committed-by-her-abusive-husband This petition will be delivered to: Attorney General Kamala Harris Free Kelly! Domestic violence survivor serving her 19th year

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A Conversation with Piper Kerman

SAVE THE DATE – SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2014 A CONVERSATION WITH PIPER KERMAN, AUTHOR OF ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, AND OTHER FORMERLY INCARCERATED PEOPLE Sponsored by California Coalition for

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I have so much love for this group that helped me to be free.  These women came to visit with us as if we were a part of their family

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Take Action Against the New SF Jail!

http://curbprisonspending.org/?p=3222 Do you think the new SF jail is good for children? Last week Supervisor Eric Mar said he “can’t under clear conscience support” what he called “a step forward towards

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Chowchilla Freedom Rally Media

The Chowchilla Freedom Rally made big waves in the local media! Below is a compiled list of the media coverage of the rally including radio interviews, television segments local to

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Chowchilla Freedom Rally!

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is converting Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) into a men’s prison in response to a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce

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Tell Tom Ammiano to Repeal AB 900

San Francisco — CALL and EMAIL Assemblyperson Tom Ammiano and demand an end to Prison and Jail expansion! Right now, California residents are preparing for catastrophe as millions of dollars

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A Rally for Political Prisoners

San Francisco, California: International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier. AIM-WEST will hold a Leonard Peltier rally on MONDAY, February 6th starting at the Federal courthouse on Mission and 7th

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End of Prison Oversight Not Certain

AP Interview: End of prison oversight not certain By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ? The court-appointed receiver overseeing California’s prison health care system said Friday the state

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SB 391 has been withdrawn!

5 January 2012 SB 391 was introduced late in the legislative session by Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) and he has now withdrawn the bill! If passed, SB 391 would have

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CCWP on Hard Knock Radio!

On the last Friday of every month at 4pm, the Without Walls radio show airs on KPFA during the Hard Knock Radio hour. Without Walls is a collaboration between Legal

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LGBT Pen Pal Resources

Black and Pink Commmunity Church of Boston 565 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116 Gender Mutiny Collective PO Box 0494 Chapel Hill, NC 27514 Hearts on a Wire PO Box 36831

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Hunger Strike Update

16 October 2011 The second recent hunger strike by California prisoners has come to an end. As prisoners throughout California continue their struggle for human rights and against torture, we

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Attorneys Needed

Countless women in California’s prisons are serving life sentences as a result of being abused by an intimate partner; some were convicted for their involvement in the death of an

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Take Action California

Take action at Take Action California: a virtual, one-stop, for political activism, action alerts, fact sheets, and events in support of grassroots advocacy throughout California. By increasing our collective capacity

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Focus on Parole

Companeras Talk About Parole Lupe I taught myself English when I came to prison. During my sentencing I wasn?t able to ask questions, so I would just go with what

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Norma Cumpian succeeded on appeal Patricia Joellen Johnson Pending Release Romarilyn Baker is waiting for the Attorney General to show cause and for the court to rule against

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Human Rights Lawyer Imprisoned

In 2002, human rights attorney Lynne Stewart was arrested and charged with aiding terrorism because she issued a press release on behalf of client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian Muslim

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Pursuit for my Pardon

by Rose Parker aka Dr. Rose Parker-Sterling In 1996, I officially submitted a request for a ?Pardon? from then Gov. Pete Wilson. I sent a certified letter every two weeks

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Youth Organizing Resources

YOUTH JUSTICE SERVICES AND ORGs Center for Young Women?s Development 832 Folsom Street, Suite #700 San Francisco, CA 94107 Ph: 415-703-8800/ Fax: 415-703-8818 www.cywd.org Founded in 1993 by a coalition

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No Quiero Morir en Prision!

Me arrestaron cuando tenia 17 anos y me dieron cargos de adulto. Me encarcelaron por un crimen que no comiti. Me pusieron la conviccion de 1 grado de matanza solo

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Free Alex Sanchez!

Alex Sanchez, founder and executive director of Homies Unidos, was arrested on June 24 on federal racketeering charges as part of a wider indictment against members of the MS-13 street

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Take Me As I Am

by Sable take me as I am. the arch of my back as I stand upright. the boldness in my face the smooth touch of every curve take me as

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What Happened?

by Hakim The bus was late and a I had no clue so was my fate I still had time to smoke some weed to start off my day All

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Surviving the System

by Suzy Mellen When the judge sentenced me, I thought he said 25-to-Life. After a few months of being in prison, one of my roommates read my face sheet. She

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Juvies: A Chance Film Documentary

by Leslie Neale Director?s Statement: “When I started volunteer teaching at Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, I was naïve to juvenile justice, thinking children were handled fairly and with care,

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Wanted – Justice in the Desert

The Struggle Continues for Humane Treatment inside the Skilled Nursing Facility at Chowchilla “I have witnessed several things that are so inhuman that I just couldn’t continue to stand by

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Mary Shields is Free!

17 January 2011 After serving over 19 years in prison, Mary Shields was released on parole on Martin Luther King’s birthday! This was a long struggle for Mary who was

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Thirteen Springs

Thirteen Springs By Marilyn Buck (1997) had you planted a tree to fi ll in the deep well of my absence that tree would be thirteen springs high high enough

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Deportation Follows Parole

Deportation Follows Parole Rosie Sanchez was released from CIW on March 18, 2010 after serving 23 years in prison. Despite the efforts of her USC law team, she was immediately

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases . . . . Frankie Williams, was released March 4th, 2010, has a loving extended family who are thrilled to have her home after 31 years of incarceration.

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Dedication: Marilyn Buck

We dedicate this issue of FI to Marilyn Buck, former political prisoner, sister, comrade, and friend. After 25 years in federal prison, Marilyn was released on parole on July 15,

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Dedication: Debbie Peagler

We dedicate this issue of The Fire Inside to Debbie Peagler, mother and grandmother, domestic violence survivor, advocate, educator, singer, cancer survivor and dear Sister. Debbie was released from Central

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Freedom through knowledge

As of January, 2010 many educational and vocational jobs were cut at Central California Women?s Facility (CCWF). Some classes will remain, but not any GED or ESL. All our college

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Legal Corner: Your Right to Education

by Allegra Funsten, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children legal intern Article 5 of the California Constitution clearly affirms the duty of the State to provide free, publiclyfunded elementary and

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Barbwire Rose

Chi Chi Locci, vocalist, CCWF For many years now at CCWF I have been fortunate to be a part of Arts-in-Corrections, a program that has nurtured some of the most

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Peer counseling, a source of growth

The Fire Inside interviewed Melody about the beautiful friendship and peer mentor she had with Darlene while incarcerated at CIW. Melody?s mentor helped her learn job skills, but more importantly

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Goodbye Shawna Sanchagrin

In March 2010 CCWP said goodbye to our dear friend and CCWP Program Coordinator Shawna Sanchagrin after many years of her dedication and hard work. With her own experience of

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Addressing healthcare inside

by: Wilson Moy and Ashley Moss, CCWP high school interns In 2006 Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases? (WORLD) highlighted the life of Beverly Henry, who tested co-positive for

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Help Tell Our Story!

CCWP is putting out a CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Help us spread the word. . . 1) Help with a guide This is a shout out to formerly incarcerated members who

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Help Free Sara Kruzan!

From the Free Sara Kruzan website : “There are approximately 225 juveniles in California serving a life without parole sentence. California has the worst racial disparity rate in the nation

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Help Free Sara Kruzan!

From the Free Sara Kruzan website: “There are approximately 225 juveniles in California serving a life without parole sentence. California has the worst racial disparity rate in the nation for

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Juvies: A Chance Film Documentary

by Leslie Neale Director?s Statement: “When I started volunteer teaching at Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, I was naïve to juvenile justice, thinking children were handled fairly and with care,

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Frankie Williams is Free!

Many thanks to all who signed petitions for Frankie’s release!! California Coalition for Women Prisoners challenges the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) and its destructive effects on our communities. All communities

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Unjust Life Sentence

From Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Why did Michelle Taylor get such an excessive sentence? Nevada law imposes a mandatory life sentence (with parole eligibility after 10 years) for the crime

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Resistance Behind Bars

Resistance Behind Bars documents collective organizing and individual resistance among women incarcerated in the U.S. and challenges the reader to question why these instances and efforts have been ignored and

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Women Sue for Healthcare

Women Sue for Healthcare by CCWP members On April 4, 1995, 24 courageous women prisoners with grave illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, AIDS and tuberculosis, filed suit

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Recent Event on March 11, 2010

The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther Keeping the Faith in Prison & Fighting for Those Left Behind Foreward by Angela Davis Afterword by Mumia Abu-Jamal Edited, with

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Freedom for Margaret Moore!

The following is a message from the Post Conviction Law Project asking the community to support Margaret Moore. Please send your letters of support for this incarcerated survivor of domestic

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Thank you for the Benefit Concert!

on Saturday, November 21, 2009 “Country? Joe McDonald performed: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie a benefit for the California Coalition for Women Prisoners “Country” Joe McDonald performed his critically acclaimed

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Beyond the Odds

beyondtheodds.org A website featuring the perspectives and personal stories of young people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Dedication

This issue of The Fire Inside is dedicated to all the women and transgender people inside who have been punished, abused or disrespected for trying to deal with your own

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“Caged” Mental Health

by Sandi Nieves, Central California Women?s Facility, Death Row Caged mental health is cruel and unusual punishment, and it is insane. You may be asking, “What do you mean by

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Without hope I can’t cope

by Chi Chi Locci , CCWF I can’t cope without hope!!!! I am an African American woman, age 52, with a 15-year-to-life sentence. As I continue to prioritize my value

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Editorial – Salud Mental Enjaulada

Las personas usan diferentes palabras cuando hablan sobre salud mental y enfermedades mentales, y muchos de esos términos están cargados de muchos estigmas, No queremos ser la “policía de las

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Family Visiting Day, 2008

March 15 marked CCWP’s forth annual Family Visiting Day event connecting with family members and loved ones of prisoners at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) and Valley State Prison for

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CURB sues to stop AB900

On Tuesday, May 6th Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)* filed a lawsuit to stop the $15 billion dollars of prison debt. At a time of desperate financial crisis,

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The union we yearn for

by Deirdre Wilson Containment a private prison the nature of every human soul. A struggle to be without limitation of the senses, without sense Of separation To know… Ocean’s tide

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FAMM’s Commutations Project

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) has initiated a Commutations Project, bringing attention to cases where the punishment–the lenght of the sentence–is all out of proportion with the crime. If you

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“Grief Share” program at CCWF

Within the last year or two we witnessed many more suicides, or attempted suicides. As a response, Sister Maryanne helped put together a “Grief share” program. It gives an outlet

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Elnora Francis, 69 years old, was approved for release by Governor Schwarzenegger on February 15, 2008 released from prison after serving nearly 24 years of a 15-years-to-life for

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Marsy?s Law — threat to parole

Marsy’s Law, also known as the “Crime Victims Bill of Rights” was recently submitted as a ballot initiative with 1.2 million signatures. Supported by victims’ rights organizations and funded by

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STOPMAX Campaign conference

Pam Fadem From May 30 to June 1, 2008 the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) sponsored a conference in Philadelphia, PA to launch a new national campaign to shut down

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Too late for Sista K!

(died March 18th, 2008) by Beverly Henry, CCWF We spoke very seldom we even worked at the same prison factory without warning you left work one day and never returned.

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Prison Creative Arts Project

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) based at the University of Michigan collaborates with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative

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Dedication

We each wish that when a person passes, their loved ones surround them as they make their transition. California prisoners are more often than not denied that bit of compassion

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Responses to Jena

[During Fall 2006 two Black students sat under what was considered a ?white? tree on Jena, La., high school?s grounds. The next day nooses were hung from that tree. The

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Luchando por sus derechos

Ahora es un tiempo importante para todos nosotros de presionar mas al Gobernador, a los Legisladores del Estado y a la Junta Directiva, para defender el derecho constitucional a la

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Arrival

Kelly Evans/Davison, Standish Facility, Michigan Bright, shiny bracelets Jangling on my arm While metal snug about my waist Chains dangling seductively between my legs I am captured, but not subdued

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Pledging My Love

Kelly Evans/Davison, Standish Facility, Michigan Prison walls may be between us Prison walls may keep us apart But each letter I receive, sweetheart Brings you closer to my heart. Love,

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Suicide City

Sara Olson, CCWF Right after 4:30 p.m. count on Halloween, there was the sound of a scuffle in D Hall. An alarm brought guards running from all parts of the

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Transforming Justice Conference

Shawna S. On October 13 and 14, a team of formerly imprisoned transgender people and anti-prison advocates held a conference at City College of San Francisco called Transforming Justice: Ending

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The Visiting Room

Zoe Willmott for my mom childhood memories cement walls surrounded by cold gray enclosed with hard steel uncomfortable plastic chairs around tiny two-foot beige tables I sit there waiting ?Donna

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Free the New Jersey 4

On June 14, 2007, four young African-American lesbians were convicted of 2nd degree gang assault and sentenced to prison time ranging from 3 to 11 years. These four friends had

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Esperanza Alvarez was released from CIW in November after serving twenty-five years on a fifteen-to-life sentence. Espie was the chair of the Mexican American Resource Association for 17

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Inadequate telephone service

Hamdiya Cooks The telephone system is one of the most necessary forms of communication prisoners have to connect to their loved ones. On July 17, 2007, the former MCI Department

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Inadecuado servicio telefónico

La habilidad para conectar con el mundo afuera es crítica para mantener nuestro bienestar emocional y espiritual mientras estamos lejos de nuestros hijos, padres, seres queridos y familia extensa. El

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What about the Jena 6?

This is in response to the incident in Jena, Louisiana. Allow me to introduce myself. I choose to call myself Los Angeles 1 (LA 1). I have been incarcerated for

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Prison Place

PrisonPlace.com is an online community for friends and families of those incarcerated. This new community is designed to offer accurate and current information on all Federal and State prisons and

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Dedication

The first transgender woman to be housed in a women?s facility in Califor- nia is Nikki Lee Diamond. Nikki recounts her experience in her essay ?Behind These Mascaraed Eyes: Passing

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I’ve Found Myself

BG, former CCWF prisoner I used to dress like a girl, but I was always a little tomboy — I didn’t talk or act or sit all girly, and I

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Me encontré a mi misma

BG, persona ex prisionera del CCWF Yo me solía vestir como niña, pero siempre fui un pequeño muchacho, yo no hablaba o actuaba o me sentaba como niña, yo tendría

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Angry! Yes I am!!!

K.A., CCWF You violated me when I couldn’t defend myself. You lied to me when I thought you were all I had to trust in. You beat me for something

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Scam alert

We received information from a federal prisoner in California for a company calling itself the “National Association for Equal Justice”, claiming to offer “inmate community release packages, valued at over

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CCWP on the Radio!

Every 6 months we will be hosting the Without Walls radio show on Hard Knock Radio every 4th Friday of the month from 4-5pm. You can hear us on January

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Lobby Day

On March 28 over 200 former prisoners, loved ones of prisoners, and allies gathered in Sacramento for a rally and lobby day organized by Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes

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Family Visiting Day 2007

CCWP held its third annual Family Visiting Day event in February, providing transportation from Oakland and Los Angeles to Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women. The

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Becoming a Trans Ally

Becoming a Trans Ally * Seek information about transgender identities and organizing being done by transgender communities. There are many organizations with information and resources. * Acknowledge, examine, question, challenge

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A Vision for Love and Justice

Interview with Miss Major, Community Activist with Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project/ Transgender in Prison Committee Most people cannot imagine what happens to a transgender person in prison.

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Resources for Trans Prisoners

Resources for Trans Prisoners Sylvia Rivera Law Project 322 8th Avenue, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10001 www.srlp.org Transgender Law Center 870 Market Street, Room 823 San Francisco, CA 94102

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Prison Expansion Coup

by Karen Shain In late April, five members of the state legislature and the governor struck a deal that will increase the number of beds available for state prisoners by

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Why am I still in prison?

by Myrtle E. Green, California Institution for Women Myrtle Green is featured on the cover of Legal Services for Prisoner’s report, Dignity Denied calling for the release of elderly prisoners.

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“Prop 36 Works” Rally

On April 18 a rally was held at the Capitol in Sacramento to support Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, which allows people convicted of

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Hudie Joyce Walker was released on May 1, 2007 after serving 16 years of a 19 years-to-life sentence for killing her abusive husband. In February 2007 the Court

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Facts About California Women’s Prisons

California “hosts” the world’s largest women’s prison, the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. There are 3 major women’s prisons in California. CCWF and Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW),

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Family Visiting Day 2007

CCWP held its third annual Family Visiting Day event this past February, providing transportation from both Oakland and Los Angeles to Central California Women?s Facility and Valley State Prison for

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Dedication

California prisoners engage in some the most laborious work to provide over 1400 goods and services which support the daily operations of prisons in addition to supplying private capital with

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Working for the P.I.A.

by Edaleen Smith “Mama Sherrie”, Central California Women?s Facility I’m writing from behind the wall in Chowchilla, CCWF. For the record, incarcerated women have no equal opportunity or support working

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And I am you, too

by Deirdre Wilson, former prisoner, survivor We are proud to publish this original poem read by the author as part of the event Our Voices Within: Out of the Shadows

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Editorial: New Millennium Slavery

by shawnna d. and the Fire Inside Editorial Collective Just as newly freed Africans were convicted of minor offenses and then used as cheap (free) labor for industrial capitalists, poor

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Prison Labor Hierarchy

Joint Ventures are at the ?top? of the jobs for prisoners. Here are a few facts about Joint Venture: Proposition 139, passed by California voters in 1990, allows private businesses

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CCWP?s celebration

On November 5th, 2006, CCWP hosted a powerful event to celebrate ten years of publishing our newsletter by and for women prisoners. ?The Fire Inside brings light into the hearts

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In Memoriam

“Baby”, 25 years old, a lifer, committed suicide in CCWF on October 1, 2006. She was a diagnosed schizophrenic though friends said they “didn’t see it coming.” She was very

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Vigil for Outreach and Justice

by Jodie Lawston In September 2006, a 26-year old woman died in the Vista Detention Center in Vista, California. The circumstances for her detainment are still unclear, as are the

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Sadly, we have no precious releases to report at this time. We hope that we will have some good parole news in our next issue! Outrageous Denials? On

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Special Session Prison Expansion Defeated

4,500 women?s beds, out-of-state transfers go ahead anyway Governor Schwarzenegger?s proposals for prison expansion got nowhere in the special session he called specifically to push through his disastrous solutions for

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Dedication

Norrita Jeanette Wynder (Baby Girl) died on February 7, 2006 as a result of a preventable and treatable asthma attack. She was 28 years old. The guards on her unit

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To Those I left Behind

by Theresa Cruz To all my loved ones behind bars, As I walked out the gates, I felt 2,000 tons of pressure released. The drive home, the beautiful mountains, green

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Get on the bus

by Sara Olson, CCWF Who has the right to be a mother in the United States? Are women who are incarcerated ?fallen women,? examples of the patriarchal version of the

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New tools of torture

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is ruthless in experimenting with new and improved objects of torture. The following items are some of the recent instruments used to inflict pain

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Torture in Mexican Prison

Mexican Women Beaten, Abused and Imprisoned! In May, 2006 CCWP Patricia Chase, former CCWP volunteer coordinator and founder of the Compañeras project, called CCWP from Mexico to tell us about

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Tortura en la prision de Mexico

Mujer Mexicana golpeada, abusada y encarcelada! Mayo, 2006 Patricia Chase, comunicadora del CCWP; que a su tiempo fue coordinadora y la fundadora del proyecto compañeras nos hizo una llamada desde

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CCWP Founding Member Diana Block Honored

by Yvonne/Hamdiya Cooks Diana Block, University of California, San Francisco Senior Analyst, (Children?s Cancer and Blood Diseases), founding member of CCWP and Advisory Board member was honored with the prestigious

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Free reading material

Lawrence ABC Publisher and Distributor sends free literature (including booklets, pamphlets, resource guides, and zines) to prisoners. Topics available include political theory, anarchist history and thought, and the prison industrial

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Katrina Amnesty

Have you or a loved one been locked up because of Katrina? Critical Resistance (CR) is fighting for amnesty for people arrested because of the storm. We are looking for

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Calling All Women Inside

CCWP will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of printing The Fire Inside newsletter with a program on November 5, 2006. We invite all women living in a CDC & R

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Habeas Project client, Cheryl Orange, was acquitted of all charges relating to the death of her abusive husband in 1985. Last year, a Stanislaus County judge granted her

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For Annie Castiglione

by Jane Dorotik, CCWF Dear Legislator, I am writing to you to encourage your support for greater utilization of compassionate release in the prison system. Compassionate release is an available

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2006 Family Visiting Day

On Saturday Feb. 4th, 2006 family members of women incarcerated at CCWF and VSPW boarded buses in Los Angeles and Oakland to participate in CCWP?s second annual Family Visiting Day. For many of the family members who participated, this was a much welcome chance to visit loved ones in prison, some of whom hadn?t been visited for years. It was also a wonderful opportunity for families to get to know each other and to get to know the people in CCWP who visit and advocate for their loved ones.

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Martha Fernandez

Martha Fernandez, who was a prisoner at VSPW, died on Monday, December 12, 2005 after having been treated in the emergency room of Madera Community Hospital. Her body was transported

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Dedication

To all of you who have shared your stories, poetry and art over the past 10 years, this issue of The Fire Inside is dedicated to YOU. CCWP would not

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Woman prisoner writes

Dear CCWP, I look forward to every issue of The Fire Inside. So far in my personal journey in prison I am still getting used to the idea of being

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USF Creative Justice Art Show

On February 3, 2006 University of San Francisco?s Equal Justice Society hosted a Creative Justice Art Show whose proceeds were donated to CCWP, specifically to the Family Visiting Day program

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Freedom

by Yvonne/Hamdiya Cooks Freedom finds me waiting A few more minutes Waiting Waiting for me I will greet her with love and longing I will respect her with dignity and

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Letters for Liberation

by Anonymous, CCWF A group of inmates are spearheading a letter writing campaign to legislators. This campaign involves two projects: 1. Release women from prison; 2. Return family boxes, eliminate

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Are We the Lost?

by Angelina Rodriguez, Death Row, CCWF For the son of man has come to seek and save that which is “lost”. ?Luke 19:10 Who are these “lost”? My name is

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Voices from the hood

by KC X018, CCWF Voices from my past, children, soft sounds, the smell of cut grass The flight of the falcon, a humming bird hovers around a bright red feeder.

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Seeds of Light

Bringing Indigenous languages into the prisons by Stormy Ogden (Tule River Yokuts, Kashaya Pomo) former prisoner, yokutswoman@aol.com For the American Indian people language is an intricate part of their culture.

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Solitude

by J. O., CCWF, 7/2/04 In the solitude of my living space I contemplate the fate of my existence Expelled from society, the so-called human race There is turmoil, chaos

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See What I See ?

by L. R., CCWF Society is led to believe that they have captured many ?evil drug lords? In the war on drugs They say the streets are safe but ?

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Martha Fernández (en Español)

Martha Fernández, quien estuvo prisionera en el VSPW, murió el Lunes 12 de Diciembre del 2005, después de haber sido atendida en la sala de emergencies del hospital de la

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The Story of Martha Fernandez

Martha Fernandez, who was a prisoner at VSPW, died on Monday, December 12, after having been treated in the emergency room of Madera Community Hospital. Her body was transported to

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Are Vendors Gouging Prisoners?

by Prisoner?s Family The vendor pricing comparison below shows how outrageous the pricing of the prison-approved vendors actually is. We encourage our readers to write your state legislator and let

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Medina Ibbotson was released at the end of her sentence from CCWF in October 2005. We have been in touch with Medina and understand that she is doing

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Justice Denied

Justice Denied, The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted #30 (Fall 2005) featured Jane Dorotik?s story. To get your copy, write: Justice Denied P.O. Box 68911 Seattle, WA 98168

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Dedication

The whole world watched as Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans exposed the deep racism of our country. Over 1,000 lives were lost and countless people were trapped

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Health care recievership update

Developed by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners in consultation with Prison Law Office. ? In June 2005 Judge Thelton Henderson declared that the state prison medical system was ?terribly

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Victim #1

T.Y., VSPW A victim of this insane prison society Never ending ridicule, distributed systematically Freight in my eyes Living in a bloody disguise Just a mold among all women I’m

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Is anyone out there?

Anonymous, VSPW It’s a shame that a large part of the staff who work here at VSPW are immature men who regularly verbally assault us. They take pride in inflicting

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Messages from inside

Chopper, CCWF We miss and love you! Salutes to “Happy,” JoAnn, and Juju-Mama! CCWP is a blessing. We’ll miss Christina and we will embrace Yvonne. * * * Wanda Brown,

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Finland?s prison reforms

Urszula Wislanka This summer I was fortunate to visit Finland. I heard about their experiment in reducing incarceration so I took the opportunity to find out more. Mr. Jari Lohi,

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Katrina aftermath

Karen Shain [Karen Shain went to New Orleans and worked with others assisting Common Grounds, a grassroots organization there.] As the drama of Katrina and its aftermath exploded across the

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A Family Survives Katrina

as told to Yvonne Cooks [Danielle Metz, of New Orleans, is incarcerated at Dublin, California (see story in The Fire Inside #11.) Her sister, Adrienne Bernard, moved to Stockton to

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Ollie Johnson wasreleased from prison in November 2005 after serving 18 years for killing her abusive boyfriend. All of Us or None co-founder Dorsey Nunn mobilized widespread community

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Compañeras

Compañeras es un proyecto que nace de la necesidad de levantar nuestras voces por justicia, dignidad y por la defensa de nuestros derechos humanos como mujeres inmigrantes, latinas y chicanas,

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Compañeras project

Compañeras is a project born from the necessity of raising our voices for justice, dignity and the defense of our human rights as immigrant Latina and Chicana women within a

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Dedication

Exiled from the countries of their birth, railroaded into prisons and detention centers, torn from their children and denied health care because they don?t speak English ? the treatment which

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Immigrants? Rights

Legal Corner Cassie Pierson, Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (the 96 Act) increased criminal penalties for immigration-related

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Post Prison Detention

Yvonne/Hamdiya Cooks Once released from already oppressive and abusive conditions in the prison system, immigrant women are held in U.S. jails to face deportation proceedings and possible torture. I had

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Inmigrantes: Encerrados Adentro y Afuera

Editorial Esta editorial ha sido escrita por una compañera inmigrante en CCWP con comentarios y reflexiones de otras mujeres no-inmigrantes. La situación para mujeres tambien inmigrantes que estan en prisión

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Immigrants: Locked In / Locked Out

Editorial This editorial was written by the immigrant women of CCWP with input and commentary from other non-immigrant women. The situation for incarcerated women who are also immigrants has always

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Aliens?

ABC, CCWF Aliens? Why not human beings? What a term Americans use when it comes to hard working immigrants who are only looking for an opportunity to better themselves! Americans,

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Introduction

Yvonne/Hamdiya Cooks It is with great honor and privilege that I introduce myself to you as the new Executive Director of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. I am very

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Projecto Compañeras

Silvia Tello Compañeras es un proyecto que nace de la necesidad de levantar nuestras voces por justicia, dignidad y por la defensa de nuestros derechos humanos como mujeres inmigrantes, latinas

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Compañeras project

Silvia Tello Compañeras is a project born from the necessity of raising our voices for justice, dignity and the defense of our human rights as immigrant Latina and Chicana women

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Family visiting day

?It was very heart warming to see my grandchildren with their mother. They really needed to see each other. I want to thank you all for making this happen for

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So Address Me As Such

MM, CCWF ?When you stand with the blessings of your mother and God, it matters not who stands against you!? ?Yoruba Proverb I can see right past your intricate masks,

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Parole Beat

Precious Releases? Valere Boyd is free on parole after having been imprisoned since 1986 for killing her abusive husband. On March 16th, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger approved the Board of Prison

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Anti-ribbon cutting ceremonies for Delano II

Oakland, Ca.?On June 1, 2005, California opened its latest prison, a maximum security facility in Delano. Demonstrators opposed to prison building included Critical Resistance, Education Not Incarceration, Californians United for

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Health care hard to find

It’s Your Health Pam Fadem Health care in immigration detention centers?and information about it?is hard to find. CCWP would like to publish an article about conditions for women being held

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Dedication

Theresa Azochar?s life changed the moment her daughter, Theresa Cruz, was arrested for conspiring to murder the man who had abused and stalked her. Over the next thirteen years Theresa

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To All Mothers in Prison

Edaleene Smith, CCWF There is no one on earth who can mother your children better than you. Yes, I sit here every day, hurting, thinking about my son. Praying and

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A Bill of Rights for children

Legal Corner by Cassie Pierson, Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children The San Francisco Partnership for Incarcerated Parents (SFPIP) was formed in 2000, with the support of the

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Stress on families

Debi Z. CCWF My whole family turned against me since I got arrested. My own mother, my sisters, aunts, uncles, everyone. Their initial reaction was that the dysfunction of my

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Mother-daughter in prison

A moving memorial was held at Valley State Prison for women in Chowchilla, CA, for a woman who died on the outside shortly after being released. This is her daughter’s

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Family values

Editorial ?Prison has severely severed my family ties by loss of communication, loss of trust, and a very hurtful and disappointing separation from those that I love.? ?EH, woman in

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Valores Familiares

Editorial La prisión ha afectado severamente los lazos entre mi familia y yo por la falta de comunicación, perdida de confianza y una muy doloroso y desepcionante separación de aquellos

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Our Voices Within: Our Journey

Andrea Bible More than 250 community members gathered to support survivors released this past year and to re-commit to fighting for the liberation of those who remain imprisoned. Released survivors

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Parole Beat

Outrageous Denials? In a decision released on October 22, Governor Schwarzenegger reversed the Board of Prison Terms’ decision to grant parole to incarcerated survivor and mother of two, Flozelle Woodmore.

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Judi Ricci, Presente!

Karen Shain and Heidi Strupp Our dear friend and sister Judy Ricci passed away on November 30th. Judy was an unstoppable fighter for the rights of women prisoners, people with

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Theresa Azochar, Presente!

The following letters were written after Theresa Azochar was diagnosed with liver cancer. She is a rose, she is a flower that blooms, she is the one that has the

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Charisse Shumate video

A newly released video presentation of the life of Charisse Sumate is available for distribution. It traces her life through her own words and the memories of those she touched,

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Family is Hard Won

AnnaBell Chapa, CCWF Many family members deny you when you come to prison. My relationship with my sister-in-law, for example, is very shaky. Her son came out at his high-school

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Prison Tears Families Apart

L. N., VSPW I have been beaten, raped, molested, abandoned, rejected. I was left with a broken spirit. Being a mother was the best thing I ever did. My eyes

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Giving Voice to Family Members

The Family Advocacy Network, a project of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, is a group of family members and friends of prisoners who advocate for the safety and well

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It’s Your Health

Pregnancy and Mother and Infant Health in California State Prisons Pam Fadem Incarceration in California becomes a go ahead for the CDC to condemn women prisoners to bad?or no?prenatal care.

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To pregnant women in prison

Are you currently incarcerated and pregnant? Have you had a miscarriage while inside? Have you given birth in the last year inside prison? Have you been trying to get into

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Asian Prisoners’ Revolution

A call for writings, poetry, and artwork from Asian prisoners across Amerika, initiated by Eddy Zheng, from a California Prison. For the past 18 years, I’ve witnessed the steady rise

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Dedication

In December 2003, a woman prisoner inside Abu Ghraib smuggled out a note about the abuse inside. She described women being raped by U.S. guards and being forced to strip

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Family Visiting Day

CCWP sponsors Family Visiting Day this fall! Do you have family members in the San Francisco Bay Area that need help coming to visit you? Would your family members and

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Poor Training

Poor training? Few bad apples? Or torture by design? Karen Diers, Northern California Coalition for Women Prisoners From the very beginning, the prisons in Iraq were set up to be

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Dedication

To Maria and Rosario Maria Suarez and Rosario Muñoz, two Latina survivors of abuse, both recently won release on parole but were immediately placed in federal detention because they are

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Editorial

Aislamiento, intimidacion, humillación, culpa, coacción, abuso amocional suena familiar? Estos son algunos de los metodos mas communes usados por los abusadores para mantener el control sobre la mujer matratada. Muchas

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Human Rights Day Rally

On December 10th 2003 — International Human Rights Day — rallies demanding that Governor Schwarzenegger, Bring Our Prisoners Home! took place in San Francisco and San Diego. In San Francisco

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Where I Come From

Stormy Ogden, Tule River Yokuts & Kashaya Pomo, Ex-prisoner & Survivor Where I come from I come from those tears that my mom shed as she hid in the fields

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Why Philosophy?

Urszula Wislanka The theme for this Fire Inside is domestic and state violence. All violence hurts. And while the physical pain may pass with time, women prisoners have shown us

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To CCWP Visiting Team

Anna Bell Chapa, CCWF You both do so much for others Rest assured none of it goes unnoticed Your kindness comes from within It shines through almost effortlessly And with

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CCWP Takes Time to Reflect

In early February, CCWP’s Northern California and Bay Area branches spent two incredible days in Guerneville, California at a retreat center high above the redwoods. Getting away from the hustle

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Dedication

Because her name is on the lawsuit, Shumate v. Wilson, she has experienced severe retaliation since the suit began. She gets a transfusion for her sickle cell anemia once every

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The Battle Must Go On!

by Charisse Shumate, CCWF As the lead plaintiff of the Shumate v. Wilson, I fight hard trying to receive the proper medical care for myself as well as each and

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Dedication

Theresa Cruz was abused for five years before she confided in a male friend, who then shot her abuser in the legs. Although the abuser suffered no permanent injury, Theresa

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Morbid Sanctuary

by Linda Field, CCWF A friend once uttered the words “battered no more.” While it had a nice ring, I could not help but wonder how true that statement was.

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Welcome Back, Geronimo!

by Diana Block On August 16, CCWP was part of a crowd of 2,500 people who welcomed Geronimo Ji Jaga to the Bay Area as a free man. Geronimo, a

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Dedication

This issue of Fire Inside is dedicated to the eight women on California’s Death Row: Rosie Alfaro Celeste Carrington Cynthia Coffman Kerry Dalton Maureen McDermott Mary Ellen Samuels Catherine Thompson

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Who Said?

by Rosie Alfaro, Death Row, CCWF They say we must die before we multiply, I say we must keep on living and not digging the hole for our awaiting killing.

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Justice for All?

by Cathy Jacquet Thompson, Death Row, CCWF The United States houses more women comdemned to die than any other country in the world. Other than when their crimes occur or

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A Nightmare in Chowchilla

by Keri Kolmer-Gutierrez, CCWF I am 35 years old. Over the past 23 years, I’ve been in and out of drug rehabilitation. Along with the drugs came dysfunctional behavior, burgularies,

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The Great Smoke Screen

by Charla Greene, Abolition Road The death penalty is really just a smoke screen used by politicians to make it appear that they are solving the problems of violence and,

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Dedication

This issue of Fire Inside is dedicated to Karla Faye Tucker, born November 18, 1958, murdered by the state of Texas February 3, 1998. She was the first woman executed

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Family visits, privilege or right?

Women in CIW Morale on the yard amongst lifers and long-termers affected by the termination of their Family Living Unit (FLU) visits privlege is definitely down. Serving a life sentence

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A Day in One Prisoner’s Life…

Marcia Bunny, CCWF Typical Weekday 5:00 am: Get up; boil water for coffee and oatmeal (using a coil-immersion heater); while water is heating, do hair and organize toiletries for shower;

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Does Long Hair Threaten Prison Security?

In December 1997, the California Department of Corrections passed “emergency” regulations seriously restricting prisoners’ rights to have long hair, earrings and fingernail polish and affecting other so-called grooming standards. There

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The “Pin” System

Women in Dwight Women’s Prison, Illinois In recent months the Dwight Women’s Prison installed a “pin” system in its telephone system. This new law was allegedly caused by gang members

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Is Anyone Listening?

by Marcie Fort, VSPW The isolation one feels    In a crowd, all alone… Memories of our families    Memories of home… The regrets and remorse    All a little too late, Fill

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Dedication

In early June, prisoners rights activists at California Prison Focus, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Amnesty International received information from women housed in

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Theresa Cruz’s Bail Revoked

by Diana Block After 18 precious days of freedom with her family, Theresa Cruz was forced back to prison by the state of California. A federal judge had granted Theresa

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Editorial

Staring into the eye of the Critical Resistance icon we see the importance of such a symbol for these times: before you can open your mind, you must open your

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Poetic Justice

Once I killed a man oh please, do not be shocked he used to choke me till I was blue, then he would stop. Oh yes, we were happily married,

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News Briefs

Want to Write for Prison Legal News? The editors of Prison Legal News are looking for women who whould be willing to write for their publication. Any woman prisoner wishing

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Dedication

Sherrie Chapman has been in prison at California Institution for Women since 1981. Sherrie found lumps in both of her breasts in 1985 and tried to get a medical diagnosis

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A Visit to a Doctor

by a Prisoner, VSPW Walk into the “doctor’s” office (this doctor does not have a license to practice medicine) and you see disposable gynecological instruments on a cart spilling out

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Courage

by Cynthia Russaw, VSPW-SHU It takes unspeakable courage to be thrown into prison, to cry, and to be young and inexperienced… It takes enormous courage to grow up, to dream,

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In Memoriam to Tina Balagno

by Charisse Shumate, CCWF To the loving family of Tina Balagno we, the women at CCWF, send you our deepest condolences. Tina was a gift from God. She always knew

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News Briefs

International Women’s Day CCWP will feature Blind Eye to Justice, a video portraying the needs and struggles of HIV+ women in prison and Ossie Chapman, mother of Sherrie Chapman, at

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Dedication

This issue of Fire Inside is dedicated to women who have been victimized by the so-called drug war and especially those doing incredibly long sentences because of mandatory minimums and

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Is This an Offence?

by Stacey Rena Candler, FCI Dublin [At age 24 Stacey is serving a 15-year sentence for conspiracy to possess/distribute controlled substance, and aiding and abetting in drug trafficking] On June

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A Woman’s Story

by Danielle Metz, F.C.I., Dublin, Ca. When I look in the mirror I do not see a criminal, a murderer, or a threat to society. But when the judge in

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In Memoriam to Patty Contreras

by Cynthia Chandler, Director, Women’s PLAN Patrisia Gutierrez Contreras died of pneumonia on Wednesday, April 28, 10:40 a.m. at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles. Patty was the third life

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Impact of the Drug War

by Laura Whitehorn, political prisoner, FCI Dublin The federal prisons are full of young women locked away, on their first offense, for 15, 24, 35 years and more on a

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International Women’s Day

by Urszula Wislanka San Francisco, Ca. – To celebrate International Women’s Day, California Coalition for Women Prisoners showed a new video, Blind Eye to Justice. It documents the struggle of

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My sister, Tina Balagno

My name is Deborah Teczon. My sister, Tina Marie Balagno, was a prisoner at CCWF. She died 2/10/99 of breast cancer, cancer of the bones and neglect. She was HIV

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The Changing Times

by Gloria Killian, CIW The election of Governor Gray Davis signals a possible shift on crime and punishment. Early in 1999 several bills were introduced that impact incarcerated women. One

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Snitch

by Valerie Fritzel A mother of three is given a 20-year prison sentence?because her boyfriend was involved in drugs. A young man with no police record is given three life

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Prison psychiatrist arrested

The Fresno Bee of 4/10/99 reported that Dr. Mayna Meah Choudry, who works in the prisons at Chowchilla, was arrested in Modesto for raping a woman he drugged into unconsciousness.

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Millions for Mumia

On Saturday April 24, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday, tens of thousands marched in San Francisco, Philadelphia and in many cities around the world to stop Mumia’s execution and demand a new

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Amnesty International writes!

CCWP recieved copies of more than a dozen letters from members of Amnesty International in Sweden. Those letters are addressed to Commissioner Terhune, Governor Davis, Secretary Shalala, Bill Lockyer, Bill

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Dedication

This issue of the Fire Inside is dedicated to all the young women caught up in the juvenile (in)justice system. You have far fewer legal rights than adults, as well

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The Community of Women Inside

by Charisse Shumate, CCWF [We are particularly pleased to print articles which support solidarity between prisoners – Editors] When my crime took place, I was driven with guilt, I believed

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Know the Law: Dealing with the PLRA

by Cassie Pierson, Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1995 placed many restrictions on prisoners who attempt to sue their jailers

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to my father

by a young woman misery loves company is what they say who knows exactly when we will pay don’t you see all the harm you caused doing crazy shit and

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Through My Eyes

by Celeste “Jazz” Carrington, CCWF, death row This poem is to all the mothers who have suffered at the hands of another. It was inspired from my own experienes with

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Giving Girls An Opportunity

Lateefah Simon is the 22 year old executive director of the Center for Young Women’s Development, an independent grassroots non-profit located in the South of Market District of San Francisco.

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Punishing the Victim, Once Again

(Thanks to Rick Jackson for this story) In response to the dismissal of 30 correctional officers for sexual abuse at CIW, Warden Susan Poole proceeded to retaliate against the prisoners

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Standing Up for Women Prisoners

by Urszula Wislanka Chowchilla, Ca. – On November 13 about a hundred of us from California Coation for Women Prisoners (CCWP), California Prison Focus, Women’s Positive Legal Action Network (Women’s

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Health Corner

by Sherron Longfeather, certified massage therapist, health educator and former prisoner Let’s begin by relaxing, taking a deep inward breath and with your outward breath releasing stress, tension, pain, frustrations,

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Dedication

This issue of The Fire Inside is dedicated to all the mothers who are enduring separation from their children because of their time in prison. For this mother’s day 2000

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Legal News

by Cassie Pierson, Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children California Courts recognize two types of child custody, legal and physical. Legal custody generally refers to having some rights

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Demonstrate on Friday, May 12!

by Amy Weaver Bay Area community activists Joyce Miller and Ida McCray Robinson have their hands full preparing for the May 12th demonstration for “Mothers in Prison, Children in Crisis:

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For My Children

by Paula Foster Stallworth, Florida State Prison I’ve picked you up when you’ve fallen, brushed off your skinned knees and kissed your owies. I’ve held you after your nightmares, checked

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Life without Children

by Linda Field, CCWF I came to prison when Sara was seven. She was too young to understand 25 to life meant she’d grow up without her mother. Her brother

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News Notes

Demonstrate at Chowchilla Women’s Prisons, Saturday July 15, 1p.m. Simultaneous demonstrations will take place at prisons around the country demanding human rights for prisoners and their families. Initiated by the

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The Power of Thought

by J., VSPW Our thoughts can determine our well-being. Thoughts are the driver of the automobile (your body), fueled by your emotions and where you drive to is your own

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Dedication

This issue of The Fire Inside is dedicated to every woman inside who links her arms with other sisters inside and through the walls to uphold the dignity and humanity

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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

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Legal Corner: Punish and Isolate?

by Cassie Pierson, Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children Prisons are designed to punish and isolate. We hear stories about guards who set up fights between prisoners of

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Views from Inside

Gang fights happen because guards instigate Black or Mexican or white as a separate “culture.” Young women get here scared and intimidated. They are lonely, some separated from their families

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There is Strength in Numbers

by Prisoner, CCWF I’ve served 7+ years of a LWOP (life without parole) sentence and have witnessed numerous divide-and-conquer practices by the staff at CCWF, VSPW and my county of

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Tell Arnold – Bring Our Prisoners Home!

The People’s Proposition is a community initiative to “Bring Our Prisoners Home.” Across California, prisoners, family members and advocates are collecting thousands of signatures demanding that the new Governor work

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Cross Gender Pat Searches Halted!

by Karen Shain After a month of intense activity by women prisoners, advocates and the international human rights community, the warden at Valley State Prison for Women has agreed to

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To My Sister

by Anna Bell Chapa, CCWF If I could give you half of my health, I would. If I could get you home and do your time, I would. If I

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Irony

by YaVonne M. T. Anderson Quiet as kept, prison is not for rehabilitation. It serves its purpose as far as punishment goes, yet was codesigned for mental damnation. The essence

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Perry Fund Scholarships

The John W. Perry Fund, a project of the DRC Net Foundation in association with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, provides college scholarships to students losing federal financial aid because

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…and in Los Angeles

On November 1, 2003, The Action Committee For Women In Prison(ACWIP) held its very first fund raiser, The Dia De Los Muertos., in Los Angeles. The event was designed to

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Proyecto Common Touch

Assists female parolees who are facing parole revocation. 935 39th Avenue Oakland, CA 94601 Contact: Tommy Escarcega (510) 409-1662 and Bob Evans (510) 238-4190

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Surviving the System

A forum for prisoners and their loved ones, as well as various activists, professionals and recovering persons, who desire and see an absolute need for social change.

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Sadawi, Nawal. Memoirs from the Women’s Prison. University of California Press, 1994 (reprint ed).

Imprisoned in 1981 by Anwar Sadat for alleged ?crimes against the State?, Sadawi describes women?s resistance to state violence and shares insight into the formation of a women?s community. She

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Shakur, Assata. Assata. Zed Books, 1987.

Autobiography of Assata Shakur (born Joanne Chesimard), Black Panther leader politically persecuted in United States, and living in exile in Cuba.

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Our Mission

CCWP is a grassroots social justice organization, with members inside and outside prison, that challenges the institutional violence imposed on women, transgender people, and communities of color by the prison

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No Pride in Davis’ Prison State

On October 7, queers and their allies demonstrated against Governor Gray Davis’ prison policies during a fundraiser at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

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History of CCWP

California Coalition for Women Prisoners was founded in May 1995 after women prisoners filed a lawsuit, Shumate v. Wilson, regarding the horrible medical care that women prisoners in California receive.

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James, Joy.Resisting State Violence. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

This collection of essays explores interconnections between violence, political oppression, and U.S. foreign and domestic politics in the contemporary era.

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