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 has been a year of important victories and significant growth for CCWP. We are especially thrilled that our DROP LWOP campaign has contributed to an unprecedented number of commutations for people with LWOP (Life Without Parole) sentences by Governor Brown. So far, 17 people in women’s  prisons and 55 people in men’s prisons received commutations dropping their LWOP sentences!! Governor Brown has commuted an additional 80 people from life or long-term sentences. Several women formerly sentenced to LWOP who we work closely with have now been released after their successful Parole Board hearings. They now add their powerful leadership, commitment and experience to work outside prison.

We have been able to build the campaign with the critical leadership of many formerly incarcerated people, family members, advocates and organizations. Most crucially we have progressed with the full participation of people in the women’s prisons in all aspects of the campaign. See The Fire Inside #58 for more details.

We Will Continue to Expand DROP LWOP in 2019 With Your Help!

Some of our plans for DROP LWOP in 2019 include:

  • Reaching out to Governor-elect Newsom to urge him to commute the sentences of all 5,200+ people currently serving LWOP in California, and ultimately to eliminate LWOP from the California Penal code.
  • Planning a statewide strategy session about the elimination of LWOP sentencing with representatives from organizations doing similar work in other states.
  • Hiring a dedicated staff person to anchor the campaign.

    More Highlights of Our Work in 2018

    • Co-sponsorship and advocacy for important legislation signed into law including SB 1437, BESTT Practices Act, which changes CA’s felony murder law and will bring sentencing relief for a significant population of people in women’s prisons; AB 2533, Dignity and Care Act, improving access to basic needs for prisoners in poverty; SB 1393, Fair & Just Sentencing Reform Act, to end the mandatory application of the 5-year sentence enhancement for serious priors; SB 960, Annual Reporting on Suicides, requiring CDCR reporting on suicides and suicide attempts and improving suicide prevention practices; AB 2845, Pardon & Commutation Reform Act, increasing transparency and accessibility in the pardon and commutation process.
    • Building the #MeToo Behind Bars lawsuit and campaign which challenges a pattern of brutal physical and sexual assault against trans, gender non-conforming and queer people in the women’s prisons.
    • Growing a strong, vital chapter in Los Angeles which includes a formerly incarcerated CCWP program fellow, expanded prison visiting teams to CIW, and monthly prison correspondence gatherings. The L.A. chapter held a very successful Benefit Art Auction in August, a major energizer for CCWP’s grassroots fundraising efforts.
    • Participation in a number of major national conferences, including the FreeHer conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 2018; the FICPFM conference in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 2018; and the National Women’s Studies Association conference, Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 2018.
    • Moving our office to the new Freedom and Movement Center building in Oakland, purchased by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, home to LSPC, All of Us or None, CCWP and more.

    All of this crucial work requires resources

    • Salaries for our expanding staff and fellows.
    • Expenses for prison visits including car rentals, gas and food for the people we visit.
    • Stipends for the formerly incarcerated members of our Spitfire Speakers’ Bureau.
    • Printing and mailing costs for The Fire Inside newsletter.

    Please accept our invitation to be part of this work in 2019 by becoming a monthly sustainer. If this isn’t possible, please make a generous year-end donation now. Please also consider planning a legacy gift for the future through a bequest, a living trust or a beneficiary designation.

    All donations of $100 or more will receive a packet of hand-crafted cards, created by former political prisoner Linda Evans, as a thank you for your generous support.


    Please help us build on our successes of 2019 which have moved forward our core commitment to decarceration and advanced the building of community across prison walls based on justice and love.


CCWP Benefit Film Showing




PANEL with Rojas – CCWP,

Maria Moore – Justice for Kayla Moore,

Jen Orthwein – Transgender Advocacy Group


Four plaintiffs who have been incarcerated at the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CCWF, have filed the #MeToo Behind Bars lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The plaintiffs all identify as transgender, gender non-conforming (GNC) or queer. The lawsuit denounces physical assaults, sexual harassment and homophobic/ transphobic insults by correctional officers against them.  Rojas, one of the plaintiffs in the case will be part of a panel discussion after the film.

Southwest of Salem   tells the story of four Latina lesbians who were wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two young girls in the early 1990’s in San Antonio, Texas. They spent decades in prison before finally being exonerated.  Their prosecution and conviction was the product of a homophobic culture and criminal legal system.  Now trans, GNC and queer people are facing persecution in California’s women’s prisons as a result of similar attitudes and a prison power structure that condones them.

Sponsored by California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Endorsed by California Prison Focus, Copwatch, Critical Resistance, CUAV, Justice for Kayla Moore, Survived & Punished, Transgender Advocacy Group

For more information contact or call 415-255-7036 ext. 4



Artworks by Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Louise Lawler, Janiva Ellis, Laurie Simmons, Torey Thornton and more exclusively on Paddle8 August 15-29

To bid on artwork in the auction, please visit 

LOS ANGELES, CA, AUGUST 2018 California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) today announces partnerships with online auction house Paddle8 and L.A. gallery Blum & Poe to raise funds for the organization’s mission to combat mass incarceration.

The auction includes works by more than 40 donating artists — including pieces by Carroll Dunham, Janiva Ellis, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Torey Thornton, and Michael Williams — whose pieces will be available exclusively online on  Paddle8,  live to bidders worldwide August 15 – 29.

The launch event  for the 2018 CCWP Benefit Auction will be Saturday, August 18, 7-10pm at Blum & Poe (2727 La Cienega).  This event is open to the public and will showcase the donated artworks, celebrate CCWP’s efforts, and educate about the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). The works may also be viewed at the gallery by appointment only August 16 and 17.



On Monday August 6th, a hundred people from all over California came together to lobby for the passage of SB 1393 and rally to DROP LWOP sentencing in a day coordinated by CCWP and CURB.  Below is a quick, heartfelt summary of the day by Pam Fadem from CCWP with some photos.
Delegation that went to deliver the letter signed by over 100 organizations calling on
Governor Brown to commute all 5,000 people with LWOP sentences in California prisons.

It was WONDERFUL– TONS of formerly incarcerated people, lots of amazing family members, many visits to legislators, and a VERY beautiful and spirited rally — with incredible statements from people inside and former prisoners, and beautifully and powerfully displayed with people wearing DROP LWOP t-shirts (thank you Angel and Christina), ribbons (thank you June!!), amazing posters of our loved ones serving LWOP (thank you Anna H and  Grace!!), lots of homemade signs and banners—There was never a lull or a low point.

We were able to walk all of the materials collected into his office and do a hand off to the Governor’s Assistant Director of external affairs. Two family members of  people serving LWOP –Joanne Scheer and Christina Mendoza– did the drop off, and it was very emotional for everyone–

This is clearly  a growing campaign/ movement—  It was beautiful, powerful  and filled with emotion!

The box delivered to the Governor had  three 8 ft paper banners made by  people at Central California Women’s Facility — full of their handprints, signatures and family photos, over 30 statements from people serving LWOP, the official letter to the Governor calling on him to commute all currently serving LWOP signed by over 100 community organizations. It was a stunning sight.

Let’s keep the pressure up, the work  growing and continue to welcome our loved ones home.


Banner created by people at CCWF


Colby, Romarilyn, & Yolanda
Rojas, Romarilyn & Jackie