CCWP in the News
In the mid-2000s, Moonlight Pulido experienced a bout of hot flashes, emotional ups-and-downs, and other symptoms of menopause that confused her — after all, she was in her 30s and far too young to be experiencing these kinds of hormonal changes. Days before the symptoms set in, she had undergone what she believed to be a procedure to remove cancerous growths on her internal reproductive organs at the hospital at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, California, where she was incarcerated. Instead, she had been forcibly sterilized.
Chyrl Lamar is an advocate with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, an organization with chapters in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Lamar was incarcerated in September 1986. For the next 34 years she lived at the Central California Women’s Facility, a prison in Central Valley’s Madera County. Lamar was released December 2020, at age 69. On Jan. 17, 2022, she was discharged off parole.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss a murder case against a woman who served nearly 20 years in prison for her husband’s death, citing insufficient evidence for a retrial.
On April 4, 2022, the state of Delaware is set to join dozens of prisons in 18 other states in ending physical mail sent inside the prison system. The policy would force loved ones, activists, and others to communicate only via costly digital platforms.
‘There’s no amount of money that can take away how I felt’: California pays reparations to survivors of state-sanctioned sterilizations
It’s been almost 20 years since a botched surgery while she was incarcerated, but Gabby Solano still mourns the bleak consequences of losing an ovary after her other ovary had already been compromised.
On July 4, 2010 Corene De La Cruz, 33, rang the doorbell of the home she once shared with her ex-boyfriend, James Calderon. She carried a comforter, which belonged to his godmother, and a gun.
On Nov. 12, 2021, California Coalition for Women Prisoners hosted a special virtual event celebrating 25+ years of inside organizing and the consistent publication of The Fire Inside newsletter
The program will be the first in the nation to provide compensation to modern-day survivors of prison system sterilizations,
When Ny Nourn entered Central California Women’s Facility, the largest women’s prison in the world, there was every reason to believe she would never walk free on American soil again. She was just 21, and had been sentenced to “life without parole” for her part in a hauntingly brutal murder – a part she was forced into.
On Sunday, March 21, 2021, a powerful virtual art exhibit featuring art from incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in occupied Palestine and the U.S. was launched. “Art Against Imprisonment – From Palestine to the U.S.” grew out of a history of active solidarity between movements against imprisonment in the U.S. and Palestine.
Over the course of more than a century, thousands of people in California have been forcibly, coercively, or involuntarily sterilized. A bill seeking reparations for California survivors of forced or involuntary sterilizations took one step further this week than it has in previous iterations, working its way through the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Featuring CCWP members. Kelly Blackwell longs to escape her life as a transgender woman in a California men’s prison. After more than 30 years, her chance to leave arrived last fall when groundbreaking legislation gave transgender, intersex and nonbinary inmates the right, regardless of anatomy, to choose whether to be housed in a male or female prison.
Written by CCWP member and Campaign and Policy Coordinator, Aminah. Between 1909 and 1979, California forcibly sterilized over 20,000 people of color, people with disabilities and imprisoned people…
Incarcerated CCWP member, Michele Scott, writes in Elle Magazine about pandemic at CCWF women’s prison. “Incarcerated for 30 years, I’ve never seen my community suffer like this” she says.
Advocates have been urging Governor Gavin Newsom to make greater use of his clemency power, especially for older prisoners who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Today, we celebrate one CCWP member receiving medical reprieve and another a commutation!
Check out CCWP’s member, Romarilyn Ralston, and others in a new video Until She’s Free. 6Ds — document, decriminalize, divert, decarcerate, divest & dismantle and dream — is a framework for the national campaign to end incarceration of women and girls.
As the pandemic has ravaged California prisons, some families say that officials have failed to inform them when their loved ones have been hospitalized with the virus — receiving a call only when it might already be too late to say their goodbyes, act as surrogate decision-makers or provide critical emotional support.
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.
Following a number of speakers, including Courtney and Aminah from CCWP, a car caravan Sunday marked the latest attempt to draw attention to the plight of the state’s incarcerated population amid major prison and jail outbreaks of COVID-19, a debate that’s drawn new attention as limited supplies of the vaccine are distributed among at-risk populations.
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.
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.
Aminah Elster is the policy coordinator at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and a formerly incarcerated person. She says the women inside the Chowchilla facility continue to tell her about unsafe living conditions even after…
In Lisa Montgomery, formerly incarcerated women see echoes of their own stories: ‘She never had a chance to just live’
Featuring Aminah Elster, CCWP Campaign and Policy Coordinator, among others – criminal justice advocates say the profound abuse she suffered as a child is not unusual for women in prisons.
December was a disastrous pandemic month for inmates in California’s largest women’s prison, with nearly a quarter of all inmates getting infected from COVID-19 in the last two weeks alone.
En las prisiones de California se han infectado de coronavirus casi 50 mil presos, de los cuales 150 murieron. En la cárcel de mujeres de Chowchilla, el virus ya infectó a 600 mujeres.
KPFA features Aminah Elster and Lucy Kang speak on the COVID-19 outbreak and the crisis conditions inside CCWF.
Chronicle Exclusive: Amid virus outbreaks, majority of medically high-risk prisoners were not considered for release
As the coronavirus tore through California prisons this summer, a chorus of activists, health officials, doctors and judges implored Gov. Gavin Newsom to shrink the state’s inmate population and release some of the sickest and frailest prisoners — those most likely to die if they contracted COVID-19.
From The Intercept & written by CCWP member – During the September 5 and 6 heat wave in Southern California, the closest recorded temperature to California Institution for Women, or CIW, hit 115 degrees.
“What people don’t understand is that there’s no way to socially distance inside,” Kelly Savage-Rodriguez explains to me over the phone. Savage-Rodriguez is a member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, or CCWP, an organization currently involved with several campaigns for compassionate release and sentence commutations for elderly and immunocompromised prisoners who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
From 19th News featuring CCWP members – Kandice Ortega cleaned the tables and phones in building 503 with a sanitary pad. There were no fresh rags, but she didn’t want to live in filth — cleanliness had taken on a new, pressing importance. Like many, Ortega worried about getting COVID-19.
While much of California shut down this spring, Robbie Hall stitched masks for 12 hours a day in a sewing factory at a women’s prison in Chino. For several weeks, Hall and other women said, they churned out masks by the thousands but were forbidden from wearing them.
Protesters hold a vigil outside the Natomas home of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 in Sacramento, to call for the release of inmates threatened by the coronavirus.
A crowd gathered outside the home of the CDCR secretary after 50 inmates across the state have died due to coronavirus.
Loved ones of those incarcerated held multiple protests in Sacramento as the state works to reduce the growing number of COVID-19 cases at prisons. To date, 53 inmates have died from COVID-19 while in custody—according to state tracking data.
On a morning in mid-May, Anna “C.J.” Rugg, a 38-year-old transgender man who had tested positive for the coronavirus at the California Institution for Women, set his room in the medical isolation unit on fire.
Patricia Wright is thrilled to be surrounded by her family, catching up on years of lost time with her five children. They were very young when she was sent to prison. Wright was released from prison earlier this week after serving nearly 24 years of a life sentence.
Days after Gov. Gavin Newsom granted her an emergency release amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Patricia Wright, who is terminally ill with cancer, stepped through a gate out of the California Institution for Women in Chino on Tuesday and into the embrace of dozens of tearful family members and her advocates.
After outrage over case of Wright, a 69-year-old domestic violence survivor, advocates hope governor’s order will be first of many.
Interviewing CCWP members. On this edition of Your Call, we’re discussing the alarming number of coronavirus cases in California’s prisons. According to the California Department of Corrections Tracker, there are now 5,365 confirmed cases inside the state’s 35 prisons. The official death toll is 28.
Featuring CCWP members. Advocates say the move is deeply inadequate given scale of the Covid-19 crisis inside overcrowded state prisons
From SF Chronicle – CCWP member April Harris, a 44-year-old inmate at a California women’s prison, tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-May. Since then she has battled a dry cough, but that’s not the bad part of being sick behind bars.
Featuring CCWP members. April Harris, a 44-year-old inmate at a California women’s prison, tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-May. Since then she has battled a dry cough, but that’s not the bad part of being sick behind bars.
Decenas de manifestantes exigieron la liberación inmediata de sus familiares recluidos en Chino el sábado desde sus vehículos. Alegaban además que las dos cárceles en la ciudad donde fueron a mostrar su descontento están sobrepobladas.
A caravan of several dozen vehicles made stops in front of the California Institution for Men and California Institution for Women prisons in Chino, where family members of inmates and advocates protested conditions inside the facilities as COVID-19 cases continued to mount Saturday, May 23.
Woman fights for coronavirus-related release of terminally ill sister, 68, from prison, citing Michael Cohen and others: ‘What makes her so different from them?’
Amid reports of prominent convicts being granted their “Get Out of Jail Free card” due to the coronavirus pandemic a long-running campaign to release a terminally ill grandmother from her current life sentence appears to be gaining new traction.
After a two-month hold on the intake of new inmates amid the coronavirus pandemic, California’s prisons are expected to resume processing next week.
Prisoners and advocates told the Guardian that some infected inmates are in isolation without medical care or adequate food, cut off from family and attorneys
The women sat anxiously inside their prison cells at the California Institution for Women in Chino as a guard roamed about their cell block, yelling out an ominous announcement.
Featuring CCWP members. When New Jersey issued its stay at home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, residents holed up in their homes and businesses shuttered. But for the thousands of residents whose home is behind bars, it was a different kind of “lockdown.”
Featuring CCWP member, Patricia Wright. California Governor Gavin Newsom said he’s releasing thousands of prisoners. But that doesn’t necessarily include some of the state’s sickest patients.
Lashauna Blanks is an inmate at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona. She has a job washing the prison ambulance and other vehicles that transport sick inmates to the hospital. There’s no way to say for sure, but Blanks fears she gave the virus to her cellmate.
Featuring CCWP member—Candice Love was ready to move on with her life. After serving for nine years in the California Department of Corrections, the 34-year-old was released on March 10.
There are roughly 200,000 people living in prisons and jails across California. But lockups are considered powder kegs for infectious diseases such as the novel coronavirus. Our guest is Rosemary Dyer, who was just released from the California Institution for Women in Corona, in the state’s attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Outbreaks of COVID-19 have flared up at two crowded California prisons, confirming the worst fears of prisoner families and advocates — and adding fuel to a growing federal court fight over the state prison system’s response to the pandemic.
While much of the nation shelters in place, hoping to stem the spread of the coronavirus, prison inmates find themselves in an especially vulnerable position, often living in overcrowded conditions that could put them at added risk of contracting and spreading the disease.
Armando Menéndez, recluso de la cárcel, aseguró que viven en condiciones precarias y que no cuentan con las medidas de sanidad necesarias.
Earlier this week, lawyers representing the state of California notified a panel of federal judges that the state’s corrections department intends to slow the spread of the coronavirus in its facilities by freeing about 3,500 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes who were already due to be released within 60 days.
The Coronavirus Is Hitting US Prisons, And Advocates Fear Sick Inmates Will Be Afraid To Get Treatment
Advocates say prisons and county jails are “powder kegs” waiting to blow in the coronavirus pandemic. As confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, rise among inmates, they worry others who get infected won’t come forward until it’s too late.