Tag Archive: women of color

Imprisoned People Facing Medical Neglect and Violence, Family Members and Organizers Speak Out

Monday, November 23, 2015
by Dolores Canales, Family Unity Network, and Hannah McFaull, Justice Now

Sacramento – On November 11th, an imprisoned person at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), faced extreme violence at the hands of prison guards. Stacy Rojas and three others were detained, physically abused, sexually harassed, strip searched in the presence of ma le guards, and were kept without water, food or restrooms for eleven hours. The group was illegally kept in administrative segregation without a lock up order and have been denied health care support for the injuries caused by these officers. Requests to speak with members of the prison’s Investigative Services Unit have so far been ignored.

“I just want to let them know that we have been physically abused, sexually harassed,” said Stacy Rojas, “and that this was just wrong. They used excessive force, totally used excessive force against us and we need help.”

The public acknowledgment of excessive use of force and deadly use of force by police has increased throughout the nation. Video recordings of interactions between the police and the public have increased significantly in recent years as technology has improved and the number of distribution channels has expanded. This is not an option open to people experiencing violence from guards behind prison walls and any attempt to speak out is often met with retaliation and increased force.

“Our communities in and out of lock up have lived experiences with biased policing — ranging from racial profiling, to excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force”, stated Patrisse Cullors co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. “We hear about it more and more in the communities we live in, but rarely hear about the traumatic ways that it manifests in the California prison system. Stories like Stacy’s are happening everyday inside of California prisons and jails with little to no measures taken by authorities to keep people safe and hold law enforcement, such as prison guards accountable.”

Advocacy organizations working with people in women’s prisons are familiar with reports of abuse and violence, like that experienced at CCWF last week. The California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Justice Now, the Family Unity Network, the TGI Justice Project and others regularly provide legal and medical advocacy support following incidents of violence perpetrated by correctional officers at women’s prisons.

This group of organizations and Stacy’s family members are requesting an independent investigation of the violence and excessive use of force used. They are requesting medical care and safe housing for Stacy and all those involved. The group also demands an end to the violence imposed on women, transgender people, gender nonconforming people, and communities of color within the California prison system.

“My sister is at the end of a fourteen year sentence and it seems as though some would wish to take that away. This has never happened [to Stacy] before. We have never had fear for my sister’s life”, said Adriana Rojas. “My sister Stacy Rojas’ constitutional rights have been violated by being stripped searched by male guards, assaulted by means of kicking and stomping, taken outdoors in near 40 degree weather, threatened with rape, humiliated, placed in holding cages for nearly 12 hours, and deprived of food and water.” Albert Jacob Rojas added, “They were denied medical attention and denied the right to speak to internal affairs. We ask that anybody who cares about human rights and women’s rights please join us in demanding justice for all.”

Family members and advocates are calling for:

  • An immediate independent investigation into the violence and excessive force used by guards in this incident.
  • Suspension of guards involved pending investigation.
  • Comprehensive medical treatment for injuries sustained during the incident.
  • No retaliation for speaking out against this abuse.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeNowOrg/ or @justicenoworg. Join Team Abolition! Join Justice Now in building a movement among people in women’s prisons and local communities to build a safe, compassionate world without prisons.

Orange Is Not New, and Prison Is Not Our Best Color

maxresdefaultBlog editor’s note: better late than never

From the Monthly Review

by Susie Day

Twenty-five years ago, I, a hapless reporter on assignment, went to the DC Jail and met the woman who was to be my life’s partner.  I interviewed her about her political bombing case; we fell in love; I visited her in various prisons for 11 years; she was released; we’re now spending the rest of our lives working out our relationship, which has much to do with politics and everything with what she went through in prison.

Whatta story, right?  I haven’t written much about this because I’ve found it impossible to convey what prison did to us.  But when I read Piper Kerman‘s smart, funny, heart-grabbing Orange Is the New Black, chronicling her year behind bars, I thought, “Whoa, she gets this.”  Then I caught the Netflix series based on Kerman’s book.  I now suspect the most lethal thing you can do to the truth about prison is to bring it anywhere near the entertainment industry. (more…)

On Self-Defense & Women of Color…

From US Prison Culture

I have not written about the Marissa Alexander case on this blog though I have been closely following the developments in her trial. Well on Friday, Ms. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

For those who are unfamiliar with the case, here is a very brief summary. Marissa Alexander is an African-American mother of 3 who tried to protect herself from an abusive husband by firing a warning shot into the ceiling after he had beat her up again. There is of course much more to the case including the fact that her attorney tried to use the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law as her defense and was prohibited from doing so by the judge in the case. You can read much more about the case here.

This is another example of the system re-victimizing survivors of violence and speaks to what I wrote about on Monday with respect to the inadequacy of the efforts to actually support survivors of rape and domestic violence. This case brings to mind countless other stories of battered women and rape survivors who I have known over the years. But there is also something more… (more…)