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Central Valley | Police State and Prisons

Mon Feb 26 2007 (Updated 03/07/07) Life Within the Prison Industrial Complex

Prison reform and implementation of rehabilitative programs in a violent, racist culture, beset by increasingly acceptable high levels of mass poverty, sound like a fairy tale. At Central California Women's Facility (CCWF), there are women who don't even want to be eleased. There's nothing to go home to: certainly no home, no family that will take them in, no job and no hope of one, no medical care and no hope of any, no money and no hope for some. What there is, is the scarlet letter stamped on one's Homeland Security file, the big "F for felon" with all the fear, superstition, and hatred that label carries. The only forever-after in an ex-felon's life is that she'll be forever cursed by the antisocial history in her computerized personal saga. In short, except for a fortunate few who have families to help them when they get out, there's no hope.

A few reforms for women were enacted in 2005. Women prisoners can now wear our hair down all the time at CCWF. Prior to this, we could be sanctioned for one strand below our necks while at work or in education (sic). Women are no longer shackled to a bed during labor and childbirth. Most importantly, male guards can no longer pat search female prisoners.

Recently, staff members have begun to grouse and complain about how violent women inmates are or, at least, are becoming. They dissect their fears of imminent physical attacks from inmates. Even though Oleoresin Capsicum or "Orange Crush, " as it's colloquially known, an oil-based pepper pepper spray, dangles in canisters from staffs' utility belts, nestled next to collapsible Monadnock flexible metal batons that snap to full length at the flick of a wrist, guards still do not feel safe.

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Sara Jane Olson. Read more

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