The Coalition for Accountable Healthcare

by Colby and Robin
This spring, California Coalition for Women Prisoners met with members of other anti-prison organizations to talk about prison healthcare and the newly appointed federal receiver. The receiver, Robert Sillen, is in charge of ?fixing? healthcare in prisons across California following the decision by Judge Henderson to take control of prison healthcare away from the State.
This new Coalition for Accountable Healthcare includes people from Justice Now, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Free Battered Women, The Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project, All of Us or None, The Family Advocacy Network, A New Way of Life, and The CCWF Inmate Family Council. We met to strategize on how to ensure the receiver is accountable to incarcerated people, their families and the community based organizations that work with people inside of prisons.
We requested a meeting with Sillen to present our proposed solutions to the healthcare crisis. The list of solutions that CCWP brought to the table came from our conversations with people we visit at VSPW and CCWF, and from the results of the campaign surveys many people submitted last year. The solutions fall into three main categories: improving oversight, decarcerating (releasing people from prison) and improving health care administration. A few examples of the solutions we will pitch to Sillen are as follows:
1) Abolish the co-pay system as it imposes a barrier to accessing health care.
2) End the MTA position. The MTA position should be abolished, and measures should be taken to separate health care staff from custody staff. All CDCR staff positions should be either custody-related or health care-related ? no staff positions should combine these duties.
3) Improve preventative care. Provide access to better nutrition, opportunities for exercise, and information on preventative care. Also provide condoms, dental dams, and clean syringes to stem HIV and HCV infection rates. Partner with non-CDCR agencies and organizations to provide training curriculum for MACs, WACs and peer educators on preventative health care and nutrition. Provide regular medical care, elder-specific medical care, early-detection tests and monitoring.
4) Translation: provide information in multiple languages (verbally and in written form as part of prisoners? orientation packet) for prisoners in receiving at any prison on how to ask for a translator, post information on how to do this throughout prisons, and give to WAC/MACs, and peer educators.
We are excited to report that the receiver agreed to meet with the coalition soon. We are working together to prepare for this opportunity to express our collective concern about the horrific state of healthcare inside, and to stand behind the solutions for change that many of you have been voicing and organizing around for years. More news soon!