End Cruel and Dangerous Policies at Indiana Women's Prison

End Cruel and Dangerous Policies at Indiana Women's Prison

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Kelsey Kauffman started this petition to Governor Eric Holcomb

“The heat index is 109° and the doors are still locked.  Something has to be done. I’d rather be in lock [solitary confinement] than cooking inside this room.”

“I’m afraid of dying by fire because of the ways the outlets blow in the summer. No one cares here about the heat in the cells nor the fire hazard posed by the cells being locked.”

These are some of the desperate messages we have received from inside the Indiana Women’s Prison. The prison has implemented a dangerous and cruel new policy of manually locking 3 - 4 women inside tiny cells with solid doors, no toilet, no sink, no ventilation other than a 3 in. x 8 in. window, and no emergency call buttons. 

These inhumane conditions are a serious fire risk and health hazard.  It is especially cruel during the hot summer months when cell temperatures soar 10 - 20 degrees hotter than outside.  

For decades, the doors in the old housing units 1 - 7, where half the prison's population lives, have been left open and unlocked so that air can get into the rooms, the women can use the bathroom and get water, and everyone can get out if there is a fire.  

For six years, I directed the higher education program at the prison, where I loved my students and the prison’s staff and am still in touch with many of them.  The women have done nothing to deserve this treatment.  The Indiana Women's Prison was the first separate state women's prison in the US and has had a long tradition of civility and non-violence.  Ironically, the only way the women in Units 1 – 7 can get relief from the deadly conditions now would be to defy the authorities and get put into disciplinary segregation, which does have air conditioning and electronic doors and thus is cooler and safer than the housing units.

Prison administrators who have never worked in a women’s prison before justify closing and locking the doors because men are locked in their cells. But there are no prisons in Indiana where men are subjected to such harsh conditions. The men's cells all have toilets and sinks, they are single or double-bunked, and if they do have solid doors, then there is a large window and vents for air, with automatic means of opening all cells in case of fire. 

"Yet, we are still locked inside these hot cells. 2, 3 or 4 to a cell.  Ice is only retrieved 1 time a day. Enough for everyone to have one small cup. No cool air enters the cells at night because no circulation or ventilation system exists in these cells [when the doors are closed]. The temperature does not break in the cool of the night, instead the brick cells act as insulated hot ovens."

Even if they lack compassion, prison administrators should recognize that if there were a fire in any of the units the one officer on duty during the night could not possibly open all the cells one-by-one in time to save everyone.  

For all these reasons, please join us in asking Indiana's Governor Holcomb to open the doors!

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!