Release Elaine Wong, 70-Year-Old Mother, Grandmother, and Wife, Incarcerated at CCWF

Release Elaine Wong, 70-Year-Old Mother, Grandmother, and Wife, Incarcerated at CCWF

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Elaine Wong is a 70-year-old loving mother, grandmother, and wife who has been incarcerated for 40 years. She is currently serving Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) at the California Correctional Women’s Facility (CCWF). As an incarcerated elder, Elaine is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Please join us in asking Governor Newsom to commute Elaine Wong’s sentence and grant her release as soon as possible.    

Background

Elaine was born in Taiwan in 1950. As a young woman, she was engaged to her first love who betrayed her trust by having an affair, leaving her in a spiral of hurt and shame so deep she came close to taking her own life. Elaine later married a United States Airforce sergeant who offered her an opportunity to immigrate to the US and escape the pain she had endured from her previous relationship. 

Elaine encountered many barriers in transitioning to her life in the US. She spoke no English and had to acclimate to a culture she had little connection to. When Elaine started working as a chip girl at a casino, her search for fulfillment led to an addiction to gambling. This addiction caused her marriage to dissolve. While still in the heart of her addiction, Elaine met her second husband, Norman, and gave birth to her son, Glen. She found herself in a constant cycle of debts she could not repay. Her shame and guilt continued to escalate and she tried to hide this all from her family and friends. In the throes of this severe addiction, she shot and killed a man, injuring two others, and began serving a life without the possibility of parole sentence.

Throughout her 40 years of incarceration, Elaine has grappled with deep remorse and guilt for her actions. She says, “I will never be free of guilt and shame. Those will always hang over my head and live in my heart for what I did 40+ years ago. I will die trying to make amends and to honor those I harmed. I am willing to face the judgement people will always cast my way, but I can face them.” In prison, Elaine has worked hard to process and recover from her gambling addiction. She joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to deepen her understanding of her addiction and to be in community with others that were struggling with their own addictions. She also found solace in working with Bridges to Life, a restorative justice program. Seeking healthy forms of release, Elaine began pursuing art. She is now an accomplished potter and has taught herself to play classical guitar. 

Elaine has also devoted herself to building community inside, serving as a leader on the Inmate Advisory Council and as a unit representative for many years. When new people arrive in the prison, Elaine always reaches out to provide guidance and support. She has received numerous certificates of recognition of her achievements. 

Among her numerous achievements, Elaine is most proud of how she has co-parented her son, Glen, alongside her loving husband, Norman. Glen was a baby when Elaine was incarcerated and throughout his life she has worked hard to nurture and build a strong relationship with him across walls. She is so proud of the person he has become. The family is close and Elaine is now a loving grandmother to Glen’s daughter, Iris. Elaine wants nothing more than to be reunited with her family and should she be released, she is most excited to hold Iris and teach her about Chinese customs. Elaine wishes to give back to her community by working with children and elderly people.  

With eight out of ten deaths from COVID-19 in adults 65 years and older, Elaine is at high-risk of infection, especially as prison conditions make containment of the virus nearly impossible. She currently shares an overcrowded prison cell with 7 other people. Every year, her family works in earnest to support her commutation and release. The danger that COVID-19 presents for Elaine has introduced a new sense of urgency to her family’s fight for her freedom. We ask you to join us, Elaine’s friends and family, and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, in asking for Elaine to be commuted and reunited with her family. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
At 7,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!