Sisters and Sisterhood: Tearing Down Walls Behind Walls

by Katherine Dillon, CIW
My own sister has been estranged from me for many decades, especially since I came to prison.
However, within this barbed-wire community here at the California Institution for Women (CIW) there exists a sisterhood among many of the women. We together find how the medical staff and staff in general neglect and abuse us. We together find how as children and as young adults we were abused. And we together discover that we all need healing to become whole people again.
This sisterhood is found in our religious activities, in our various special interest groups, in our sports and charitable activities, in our classes and our jobs. This sisterhood is also found in a few close friends, with whom we can feel safe, with
out fear of our real selves being rejected.
I have found a sisterhood that goes beyond biological blood ties. These beautiful women have become my dearest friends, mentors and my sisters in this closed custodial community.
I still love my sister, but I also love those women in prison who, by being there for me, have a “sister” place in my heart that will never be forgotten.