Petition Closed

"We inside cannot vote.  We cannot lobby Sacramento.  All we want is to live...  Will you hear our pleas for humanity and dignity?"  A statement written by women in California's prisons.

Shown in the photo are 550 letters Justice Now has received since the CDCR’s official notice on December 23, 2011 that it would convert VSPW.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is planning to convert Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) into a men’s prison. Instead of releasing thousands of women who are eligible to go home, CDCR is planning to transfer them to them to the two remaining women’s prisons: Central California Women's Facility and California Institution for Women. This conversion and the crowding of women—including pregnant and elderly women—into facilities that are already far above capacity will intensify by horrific proportions the medical neglect and premature death already rampant in women’s prisons. Cells that were designed to house 4 now house 8 and will house 10; the overflow of people will be packed into day rooms and gyms.

Although California passed an Alternative Custody bill for women in 2010, to date fewer than 20 women have been deemed eligible for release under this bill. Over 700 people at VSPW and CCWF have already signed petitions to stop this conversion plan and the transfer of  people in women’s prisons to other overcrowded facilities. 

To read a statement written by people in women’s prisons opposed to the conversion and demanding relief, visit www.jnow.org.

Other organizations who endorse this petition are:

All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco Bay View newspaper, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, Peoples' Action for Rights and Community, Community Futures Collective, LEF Foundation, Coalition to Free The Angola Three, Solitary Watch, The Real Cost of Prisons Project, California Prison Moratorium Project, Senate Select Community Committee on California's Correctional System, Action Committee for Women in Prison, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc. (Buffalo, NY) and Community Works West.

If you want your organization listed as an endorser, please email info@womenprisoners.org

Letter to
CA's Gov. Brown, CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate & Judge T. Henderson,
Subject: Stop the Conversion of Valley State Prison from a Women's to a Men's Prison

“For us, the proposed prison conversion and purposeful, escalated overcrowding of California’s women’s prisons system are matters of life and death.” –Person imprisoned at Central California Women's Facility (CCWF)

As the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last May, extreme overcrowding of prisons is unconstitutional. It leads to increased violence, illness and deaths.

Women in prison die of medical neglect due to overcrowding, just like the men. But the State thinks no one is looking, and/or don't care, so they are increasing overcrowding in women’s prisons to create the illusion of complying with the intention of the law. Sign this petition to make sure California doesn’t get away with hiding the abuse of women in prison.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is planning to convert Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) into a men’s prison. Instead of releasing thousands of women who are eligible to go home, CDCR is planning to transfer them to them to the three remaining women’s prisons Central California Women's Facility, California Institution for Women. This conversion and the crowding of people—including pregnant and elderly women—into facilities that are already far above capacity will intensify by horrific proportions the medical neglect and premature death already rampant in women’s prisons. Cells that were designed to house 4 now house 8 and will house 10; the overflow of people will be packed into day rooms and gyms.

Although California passed an Alternative Custody bill for women in 2010, to date fewer than 20 women have been deemed eligible for release under this bill. Over 700 people at VSPW and CCWF have already signed petitions to stop this conversion plan and the transfer of incarcerated people in women’s prisons to other overcrowded facilities. They call on the public to support the following three demands in the interest of our community at large:

1. We demand the State immediately halt its conversion program and stop the transfer of women to the remaining overburdened women’s prisons so we are not subjected to escalating abuse as direct result of historic overcrowding.

2. We demand that the State release enough people to address overcrowding of all people in its prison system.

3. We demand that when overcrowding has ceased for all people, that the State close Valley State Prison for all people and repurpose it into a non-correctional, community space.

"We inside cannot vote. We cannot lobby Sacramento. All we want is to live... Will you hear our pleas for humanity and dignity?" A statement written by women in California's prisons.

To read the whole statement in it's entirety visit www.jnow.org.

We need your help to ensure their safety. We need to help ensure that VSPW be closed (not converted) once sufficient numbers of incarcerated women and transgender people are released.

At a time when state funds are desperately needed for schools and after school programs, parks, quality health care, affordable housing, and many other social services, there is no need to continue warehousing prisoners - at great public expense - who are eligible for release.

We call on Governor Jerry Brown, Matthew Cate and Judge Thelton Henderson to stop the conversion of VSPW and the transfer of women and trans people into other overcrowded
facilities!
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Sincerely,