#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 from families of those locked in cages and California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), to call on Governor Newsom to grant clemencies and IMMEDIATELY release Patricia Wright, Maria Adredondo, and Lucia Bravo — elders who are at extremely high risk of death and fighting for their lives. This action is in solidarity with our sisters at National Bail Out to #freeblackmamas.

While we are calling for action for the release of these women, our fight goes beyond the elderly and includes everyone imprisoned in a cage. We won’t stop until we #FreeThemAll.

For now we ask that you utilize our media toolkit below to sign the petitions, share them with as many people as possible and include the hashtags #BringThemHome and #FreeOurElders.

Love,

California Coalition for Women Prisoners

#Bringthemhome #Free Our Elders #CareNotCages Media Toolkit: 

This toolkit provides action items to participate in the campaign. See below for sample tweets and messaging for facebook and instagram.

Instructions: Share the petition site using the hashtag #BringThemHome this weekend and beyond. Organizations please post at least once a day on all of your platforms. 

Timeframe: May 9th- May 12th

FACEBOOK toolkit

Shareable link to Petitions: https://carenotcages.com/

This Mother’s Day, don’t forget about incarcerated moms & grandmas. Help us gain freedom for Grandmama Patricia, Mama Lucia, and Mama Maria by signing 3 petitions for our extremely medically-vulnerable members. Showing public support can mean the difference between life and death for these women. Sign, share, and repost. @California Coalition for Women Prisoners. 

#BringThemHome #FreeOurElders #ClemencyNow

Instagram toolkit

Sample Text: This Mother’s Day, don’t forget about the moms inside. Help us get closer to celebrating the freedom of Grandmama Patricia, Mama Lucia, and Mama Maria by signing three petitions for our extremely medically-vulnerable members. Getting enough signatures gives us a chance to get our message to the Governor’s desk. Sign, share, and repost! Instagram: @c_c_w_p Shareable link to Petitions: https://carenotcages.com/

#BringThemHome #FreeOurElders #ClemencyNow

Twitter toolkit

Shareable link to Petitions: https://carenotcages.com/

Sample Tweets (add graphics!):

1.

.@GavinNewsom #BringThemHome for Mother’s Day! Elders fighting cancer are at a huge health risk under #COVID19. Sign the petitions! https://carenotcages.com/ #BringThemHome #FreeOurElders #ClemencyNow

2. 

Join us in demanding that @GavinNewsom grant clemency for 3 medically vulnerable women this Mother’s Day by signing the petitions! https://carenotcages.com/ 

#BringThemHome #ClemencyNow #LetThemGo

3. 

Showing public support can mean the difference between life & death for these women. Please sign & share: https://carenotcages.com/ #BringThemHome #FreeOurElders #ClemencyNow

Newsom Grants 21 Commutations!

ClemencyCoast2Coast Twitterstorm March 27,2020

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. At the same time we urge him to accelerate clemency at a time when large sectors of the public, including public health officials, are urging immediate action to protect vulnerable people in prisons, especially older and sick people, through commutations and other forms of expedited release.

We particularly celebrate the commutations of three women who had LWOP (Life Without Parole) sentences – Rosemary Dyer, Shyrl Lamar, and Joann Parks- as well as Suzanne Johnson who had a life sentence.  All of these women were elders, some were survivors of domestic violence, all of them had already served many years in prison.  We also welcome the commutations of  the six men with LWOP sentences and the eleven men with life sentences.

The momentum for clemency has been fueled by a growing movement across the country to end life without parole and all forms of extreme sentencing.  The same day that Governor Newsom granted these 21 commutations, thousands of people across the country participated in a #ClemencyCoast2Coast twitterstorm to urge Governor Newsom and New York Governor Cuomo to #LetThemGo!

We will continue the fight for commutations in California, more urgent than ever, working with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) and the DROP LWOP Coalition. #CLEMENCYNOW!

Powerful DROP LWOP Rally

Recently Commuted people who previously had Life Without Parole (LWOP) Sentences

The DROP LWOP Spring Rally on March 9, 2020 brought together an amazing group of people to demand an end to Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentencing.  People who had been formerly incarcerated with LWOP sentences, loved ones of those still suffering death by incarceration, and many other advocates and friends gathered on the steps of the Capitol to speak their truths about the reality of living the death penalty in slow motion. Collectively we demonstrated that we will never stand down on our demand to commute all 5,200+ people with LWOP sentences and eliminate this cruel, arbitrary and racist sentence. 

Former LWOPs at Rally

One of the most incredible aspects of the day were the many people present who had been commuted from LWOP sentences and were now free and advocating passionately for those they left behind inside prison.  They, together with loved ones and advocates, made visits to legislators throughout the day.  They presented their lived experience with LWOP to educate lawmakers about why it is another form of death by incarceration.  The ask was for lawmakers to support more commutations by the Governor and legislative changes to the California penal code.

Thanks to Silicon Valley De-Bug for putting together this video .

Vigil for Vickie Lee Hammonds

Alma Hammonds, Vickie’s sister, speaking in front of CIW at November 9th rally.

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. Her death—devastating and preventable —speaks to a pattern of injuries and deaths as well as a larger culture of disregard at CIW specifically and throughout the CDCr more broadly, despite widespread and persistent public scrutiny. Vickie’s family and CCWP demand that California and its institutions of human caging be held responsible for preventable deaths in their custody, like Vickie’s, and for practices of ongoing abuse and neglect.

Vickie was diagnosed with diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had suffered through years of poor medical treatment at CIW. She also had trouble walking even short distances, but Vickie was continually denied access to a wheelchair despite repeated requests. Vickie’s health worsened in the weeks leading up to her death, but she and her friends’ advocacy on her behalf was ignored. On June 4th, the day before she passed away, Vickie’s breathing became especially strained. Despite informing the nurse of her difficulty breathing  and that her oxygen machine was malfunctioning, Vickie was sent back to her cell with no additional care, support or resources.

On the morning of June 5th, Vickie’s condition worsened. Once again, Vickie was refused admission to the prison’s emergency medical unit or transfer to the hospital. Later that night Vickie stopped breathing. Guards performed CPR while they waited for emergency responders, but their access was prevented because of new procedures around a newly-installed fence at the prison.  It took a full 45 minutes before the emergency medical team was granted access and reached Vickie. By then it was too late and Vickie was pronounced dead in the hallway outside her cell.

The horrific circumstances of Vickie’s death were compounded by the lack of communication with her family. It was not the prison who contacted Vickie’s sister, Alma Hammonds, but one of Vickie’s friends. And, as if losing a family member is not devastating enough, there was also confusion and chaos around the whereabouts of her body. “We the family of Vickie Lee Hammonds feel that her early demise was due to a lack of proper medical treatment and a complete lack of response to her,” Vickie’s family said in a statement. “Vickie’s family suffered a great loss and we all are lost for words. We all want to know why she was so neglected and allowed to die.”

Taylor Lytle reading the poem she wrote for Vickie

For Vickie, by Taylor Lytle

Help i can’t breathe

 Was her only plea

But it was not met with urgency

and now beautiful soul gone too soon

Preventable yes

But CDCR is never accountable for their mess

So we stand here and protest

We shout the names of our lost loved one

Vickie we love you

 Vickie we will fight for you.

Vickie you won’t die in vain

Vickie we are sorry

Sorry because we couldn’t save you from a system that enslaved you

The same system that claimed they wanted to help you Failed you.

We, your sisters and brothers, are sorry that we are still powerless in 2019

from preventing these systems from destroying our families

CIW u r guilty

Of inmate cruelty

 I have no reason to lie

 I once was a victim you see.

No more hiding behind these gates

The truth has been told

We’re shutting you down

I promise you that even if it cost me my soul

Screaming no more deaths is becoming a little too old

We are taking the power back

We will see to it that you get closed For good

Thank you

Gravestones for some of those who have died preventable deaths at CIW

#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. The spirited gathering marched, chanted and listened as many formerly incarcerated people denounced the sexual and physical abuse they endured while inside prison.  Stacy Rojas, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the CDCr about the assaults, described their efforts to document incidents of guard abuse which led to a brutal attack against them and several other people in 2015.  Another speaker explained that “we are only asking for them to be held accountable. The (prison) system is designed to hurt people who don’t conform. When you speak out about that, you become endangered.” 

The rally was a powerful expression of outrage at repeated experiences of harassment and violence.  It also demonstrated a fierce determination to work to ensure changes for those who remain behind bars. Demands included an end to the assaults and targeting of TGNC people in prison; a strict process to hold guards and staff accountable for abusive actions; and an end to retaliation against whistleblowers who report abuses.  Plans are underway to hold a statewide Peoples Hearing in 2020 that can clearly expose what’s going on in prisons in California and all over the country and mobilize broad grassroots support for demands for change.