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

Press release received per email:
For Immediate Release – Monday, November 23, 2015
 
Imprisoned People Facing Medical Neglect and Violence, Family Members and Organizers Speak Out
 
Press Contact: Dolores Canales, Family Unity Network, (714)290-9077 dol1canales@gmail.com  or Hannah McFaull, Justice Now, (415) 813.7715 hannah@justicenow.org
 
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 male 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.
 
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Please Sign and Share for Avis and Charmaine!

Please sign and share these important Petitions: 

Avis Lee

For Avis Lee: in prison in Pennsylvania since 1980, to get her parole.

For Charmaine Pfender: in prison in Pennsylvania since 29 years, to get her released.

Read more about their cases and the Women in Prison Defense Committee Let’s Get Free here.

Donna Hill and Charmaine Pfender (Mother and Daughter)

Thank you!

Immigrant Stories: The nurse, the detention centre & the women with bruises

From: Politics.co.uk
By Ian Dunt, Feb. 5, 2014

An occasional series of Immigrant Stories, shining a light on the people trapped in Britain’s immigration system.

“I was working in a local hospital when I saw these women come in with handcuffs on,” Susan says.

Susan is not her real name. She talks on condition of anonymity.

“I asked about it. It was clear they’d committed no crime.

“They’d been hunger striking in the corridors of the nearby detention centre. They were grabbed by the guards.

“The nursing notes said they had no injuries and were fine. When I saw them they clearly had wrist bruises which they sustained in Yarl’s Wood. There were bruises on their backs as well. They were very distressed.”

Susan’s experience left her disturbed. Why were women who had committed no crime arriving in handcuffs, bruised, under detention?

A little while later she read a newspaper report about Yarl’s Wood. Security personnel were guarding the perimeter fence against a reverend dressed as Santa trying to give gifts to the children locked up inside.

Read the rest here.

Palpable desperation: Inside the invisible world of immigration detention

Reblogged from: New Statesman, Nov. 9th 2013
By Katharine Sacks-Jones

The reports of sexual abuse at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre were sadly not much of a surprise to people who work with immigration detainees.

Recent reports of sexual abuse at Yarl’s Wood shine a small spotlight on the otherwise invisible world of immigration detention. They detail how guards preyed on isolated women, subjecting them to unwanted advances, using their positions of power to coerce them into sexual acts. Shocking yes. But sadly not much of a surprise to people who work with immigration detainees.

As a trustee of a small charity, Bail for Immigration Detainees, I visited Yarl’s Wood late last year. The desperation was palpable. One of the women I met had heavily bandaged wrists. She was on 24-hour suicide watch after one failed attempt to take her own life. She, like others I spoke to, was desperate to get out of what is little more than a prison. With 30,000 people detained per year, these women are far from rare.

Many people in detention – both men and women – are incredibly vulnerable. They are often fleeing violence and persecution. About half have claimed asylum. Some have been the victims of torture and rape.  To have faced and survived such trauma, to have undertaken a difficult journey to get away, to have left behind loved ones and the world that you know, to then reach supposed safety only to be locked up is a cruel irony. And to be detained with no release date and no time-limit must be utterly hopeless.

It is little surprise that detention is incredibly damaging. Self-harm and detention go hand in hand, with studies suggesting there are higher levels of suicide and self-harm amongst detained immigrants than amongst the prison population. The impacts on physical and mental ill health are well-documented – severe distress and depression as a result of detention are common.

Read the rest here.

Join the Chowchilla Freedom Rally!

This event is organized by Occupy4Prisoners, and will take place on Jan. 26th:
We are 3 weeks away from our statewide mobilization to Chowchilla to protest the unconstitutional overcrowding in California’s women prisons and show our support for our loved ones inside who are struggling to survive as the conditions worsen. As a result of the conversion of Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW), one of the remaining women’s prisons has now reached 179% capacity. A woman recently transferred to CCWF informed us that they were given clothes and bedding that “you wouldn’t want even your dog sleeping on.” Another person confirmed: 
Everything we rely on to survive, including medical and legal, is highly impacted by overcrowding. Overcrowding is the issue. It causes everything else to come crashing down like dominoes.”

We need your help to show the U.S. Supreme Court, the government, and prison officials that not only are we witnessing this discrimination and abuse but we will not be silent! Join us in demanding an end to overcrowding! Our loved one’s deserve humane living conditions and their freedom! Bring them home!
CHOWCHILLA FREEDOM RALLY
Saturday, January 26, 2013
NEED A RIDE? HAVE A RIDE TO OFFER?
Contact chowchilla.rally@gmail.com or 415-255-7036 x 314

Caravans leaving from MacArthur BART in Oakland at 10:30AM and Chuco’s Justice Center in Inglewood at 8:30AM. We will gather at 2PM at SE corner of Ave. 24 and Fairmead Blvd off Highway 99 in Chowchilla.

Rally begins at 3PM at VSPW. 

COME TO THE PROTEST PRE-PARTY!

Chowchilla Freedom Rally Benefit hosted by Occupy 4 Prisoners!
Saturday, January 19th 6 – 8PM
The Hold Out, 2313 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland
$5 – 10 donations, no one turned away

The benefit will feature “Fighting For Our Lives,” a short documentary about the history of resistance to medical neglect at CCWF & VSPW plus presentations by prison survivors, information about the protest and sign-making. We’re so grateful for the community support!

Can’t make the benefit but want to donate? Contribute online at womenprisoners.org

Solidarity actions encouraged! If you cannot make the rally or do not live in California, we encourage you to organize a solidarity action on the same day in your community. Hold a demonstration in front of the DOC offices or the county jail, organize a speak-out against prisons in a public space, stand in solidarity the Chowchilla Freedom Rally! Please let us know how we can support you! Contact info@womenprisoners.org

Interested in helping to organize this event? Join our coalition! Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 9, 2013 from 6 – 8PM at the CCWP offices. 1540 Market Street, Suite 490, San Francisco. Or contact adrienne@womenprisoners.org

The Chowchilla Freedom Rally Coalition includes members from California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Justice NOW, All Of Us Or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Fired Up!, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project, Critical Resistance, Youth Justice Coalition, Global Women’s Strike, Occupy 4 Prisoners, Asian Pacific Islander Support Committee and the California Prison Moratorium Project.

Dear Outside World Humanity

We found this such a beautiful story, and Sister Kendra wrote: “This month of October is domestic violence awareness month. 
James Baridi Williamson wrote a beautiful piece about his experience and honoring his dead mother and his sisters and ALL women out there.” 

Dear Outside World Humanity
As a child, I would find myself sometimes standing outside the locked bedroom door hearing my mother-Queen (Betty Jean) crying and screaming, as her insecure, possessive male brute (boyfriend) was beating her repeatedly. I don’t know if hearing my lil balled fists beating upon the door and hollering at the top of my lungs for him to stop, helped to get him to open the door, and exit, while knocking me aside. But I hated him, and carried those horrific childhood memories with their bloody images inside me, while I would run to the bathroom to get a wet towel and go try to help her wash the blood from her face. 

To this day, I find it amazing how she would be more worried about me than her own painful injuries. Hugging and comforting each other, she would somehow make sure her youngest baby boy know that he did not break her free spirit inside. Unfortunately, we got separated when I was 12 years old and sent to Kansas, never to see, hug and kiss my Queen mother again. She passed on recently (October 2010), which are two reasons why this “Domestic Violence Awareness” month is very personal and important to my heart and soul. So with that shared, there are some things that I would like to say:
1.      First and foremost, I send a heartfelt embrace of care, respect, appreciation and honor to all the (grand) mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, nieces, wives and women – queens, princesses of the world. You, each and all deserve to be treated fairly, equally and with the utmost dignity and respect, no matter what.
2.      Secondly, raising awareness about domestic violence must be a continuing effort all year long, because it’s the only way to break the cycle that has become a part of this society’s collective psyche over the centuries. Its passed on generation to generation from (grand) father to son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, friends, neighbors, and from television to viewers!
3.      Third, “understanding” is the key for each male to grow-mature and develop as real ‘men’ by recognizing, caring, respecting and appreciating women and the value that daughters, mothers, sisters, nieces, aunts, wives, friends, etc… has (and continues to) bless upon our world since the beginning of human civilization. Remember, “understanding” is key to real change. It took me years up into adulthood to grasp genuine “understanding” of some of the many reasons why women are so important to us and our world.
And for all of the above reasons and more, I apologize first to my mother Betty Jean Carr-Stanford, my sisters, my grandmother, and all the women, whose lives crossed or connected with my presence years ago in my immature and irresponsible past. When I was that frustrated, confused, lost and out of control “male” who did not know how to do my best by you. It took me over twenty five (25) years, but I have grown up inside and is man enough to say “I’m sorry” in front of the entire world.
Today, I promise that I will continue to be my best toward all (grand) mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, wives – women whom I come into contact with as I have been doing for years now. In hopes to lead by example for others to emulate.
Much care and respect to you all.
James Baridi Williamson
CDC# D-34288
PBSP-SHU
D-4-107
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
Written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda. Written on October 18, 2012 and postmarked October 22, 2012. 

Please send James some love and light. 

Prison fails to treat heart patient: More Questions than Answers about Jackie’s condition

More Questions than Answers about Jackie’s condition
Posted on May 30, 2011 by Disarm Now Plowshares

Friends,

This has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for all of us who know and love Sr. Jackie Hudson. First – Please know that there is an extraordinary convergence of people, including lawyers and physicians who are working virtually 24/7 on Jackie’s behalf. As of this moment none of us has had direct contact with Jackie, and so we cannot confirm her present health status. That having been said, here is what we know.

Since Sr. Carol Gilbert, who is also at Irwin County Detention Center (Georgia), informed us (on May 29th) of Jackie’s severe chest pain and that nothing was being done for her medical condition, Joe Power-Drutis immediately set a process in motion to secure her transportation to a hospital to reserve proper medical care. He contacted everyone possible, and engaged 2 physicians and 3 attorneys to engage directly with the prison staff. The prison has been completely uncooperative, only saying that Jackie “was being taken care of.” She is evidently in the prison medical facility (God only knows what that is like!!!).

At one point there was an indication that Jackie may have been transported to the local hospital and then returned to the jail. However, a followup conversation with staff at the local hospital confirmed that Jackie has not been admitted there, and he staff indicated that theirs is the only hospital in the area. There is absolutely no evidence that Jackie has been sent anywhere for proper medical evaluation.

The prison medical facility, as far as I know, is ill equipped to evaluate or treat Jackie’s possible medical condition and experts (MDs) agree that based on her presentation to prison medical staff, she should have been immediately transported to a hospital emergency facility for a thorough cardiac work-up.

Based on all the information we have received it appears that her treatment since her chest pain began, even beyond her basic medical needs, has been substandard and inhumane.

The legal team working on Jackie’s behalf includes Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Anabel Dwyer, lawyer and international human rights expert; and Blake Kramer, Tacoma-based attorney who has been deeply involved in defending the Disarm Now Plowshares. I understand that the legal team is currently working every possible angle, and one involves getting the Judge for the Y-12 trial, which was the reason for Jackie’s current imprisonment, to order her release/transport to the hospital.

Another major concern and an egregious disregard for the rule of law is prison’s refusal to allow Jackie’s right to legal counsel. Jackie’s court-appointed attorney, Brad Henry, found out at the jail that the Warden told all the staff at the jail that no information was to be given out about Jackie, including her appointed council. The prison is stonewalling every step of the way.

Beyond the obvious moral and ethical implications of the prison’s treatment of Jackie Hudson, it is evident that she is being deprived of her Constitutional rights as well as essential human rights. This on top of Jackie’s very real status as a Prisoner of Conscience, quite literally a political prisoner in a nation that flouts both national law and international humanitarian law and then imprisons those who follow their conscience and the law to speak and act out to call on our nation to uphold these laws.

This maltreatment must not stand. The people operating Irwin County Detention Center, a private, for profit prison, must be held accountable for their actions. If this is how they treat Jackie, someone with a broad base of support, I can only imagine the mistreatment of a vast number of prisoners who have no one to advocate on their behalf. What of the forgotten???

Besides the work being done by this dedicated group to whom I’ve referred, many of you out there are working on Jackie’s behalf, and for this I thank you all! We evidently flooded the prison phone line with calls, and I have no doubt that this has had an impact. They know we are watching! I have contacted the ACLU of Georgia, asking them to act on Jackie’s behalf. We are working on alerting media locally(Georgia), regionally and nationally to Jackie’s plight, and will also be contacting members of Congress to act on her behalf.

What can you do to help Jackie? For one thing, we can continue to call, fax and/or email the prison to let them know we are watching and demand that they send Jackie to the hospital. The phone number is 229-468-4121. You may get a recorded message during some hours. There is also an email listed: info@irwincdc.com. Fax is 229-468-4186 Additional phone numbers: Warden Barbara Walrath – warden of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-4120, Dr. Howard C. McMahan – Medical Director of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-5177. If you get into a message system, LEAVE A MESSAGE!

Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Drive, Ocilla, GA 31774
Telephone: 229-468-4121 Fax: 229-468-4186 Email: info@irwincdc.com

Here are some suggested talking points:

Sr. Jackie Hudson, who is in your care and for whom you are responsible, has had intense heart pain, which began Saturday afternoon. She is being obstinately denied proper medical care. Her symptoms suggest that she may have one or more occluded coronary arteries. If this is the case, her heart, as a muscle, will progressively worsen in the hours and days to come.

Jackie must be taken to an emergency room immediately. The Emergency Department at the Irwin County Hospital verifies that Sr. Jackie has not been taken to their hospital, and that there is no other local hospital to which she might have been taken. They Emergency Department has been in contact with the ICDC to no avail.

Such treatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and if Sister Jackie is not moved to an emergency room immediately and suffers any negative medical consequences as a result I will hold Michael Croft Enterprises, operator of ICDC and in particular Warden Barbara Walrath and Medical Director Howard C. McMahon personally responsible.

Those supporting Jackie Hudson must have direct access to her and her physicians so they know her whereabouts, her condition and her treatment. These people include: Sue Ablao, Sr. Jackie’s housemate at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Poulsbo, WA; Frank Hudson, Sr. Jackie’s brother; Sister Nathalie Meyer O.P., provincial of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Sr. Jackie’s religious order; and Brad Henry, Jackie’s attorney.

Send an email to (or call) any news media contacts you have, or even if you don’t have any you email the newsroom (look them up in the contacts section of that newspaper’s Website).

I understand that the Koinonia Partners community in Americus, Georgia, is planning a vigil at the prison tomorrow.

As I stay focused on dear Jackie’s immediate needs I find myself also focusing on a much broader issue. Here is a person with so much support from so many wonderful people. And yet, there is a huge percentage of the U.S. prison population (with the largest incarceration rate in the world) for whom there is no support. What becomes of these forgotten prisoners when they become ill??? We will take up that issue once we get Jackie taken care of!!!

One last thing before I close; an excerpt from something by Liz McAllister and Chrissy Nesbitt of the Jonah House community that I find quite pertinent today:

It is Memorial Day as we write. Meaning no disrespect, but on this “war heroes’ weekend”, isn’t it time to also honor those who have “fallen” in a different battle – against the slaughtering wars?

It often takes a different kind of moral and, yes, even physical courage to resist a war and/or a weapons system that you believe is a crime, when all your family, friends, teachers and the vast American majority support them.

But what about the Sr. Jackie Hudsons who don’t want to kill people, who don’t believe it is right to build more and more weapons of mass destruction? They’re an odd breed who count among their number such as Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Sergeant York, David Hockney, three US weapon-refusing combat medics who won the medal of honor. What kind of guts does it take for war objectors, whether they’re Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites or Roman Catholic, who simply don’t want to kill? On this Memorial Day, it might be a time to think about the outcasts who refuse to take life. Should Sr. Jackie Hudson be required to give her life in a jail that displays absolutely no respect for life? Is this what the U.S. is about?

That’s all for now. In between these emails I am regularly updating the Disarm Now Plowshares Blog as I hear of anything that you should know. Please check in at the top of the home page occasionally for updates. And – Please forward this email far and wide.

Thanks to all who have offered to help in so many ways. As bad as this all is, Jackie is surrounded by such a wonderful, loving community, and I can imagine that this knowledge is deeply embedded in Jackie’s heart and mind, and that it is a great comfort to her.

Peace,
Leonard

Update on Jackie May 31, 2011
Joe Power-Drutis

This day promises to be a pivotal one in Jackie’s life and ours.
Whatever struck Jackie in the afternoon of May 28th, we can only
assume it heart because of its symptoms, she has remained in pain,
frequently crying out for assistance, and at least many of her cries
have gone forth unanswered by her human captors.

Nearly 65 hours have elapsed since Sr. Carol Gilbert first called
pleading for someone to come and provide Jackie much need care. Yes,
65 hours have elapsed when medical authorities tell us minutes make a
difference. It is 65 hours that Ardeth, Carol, Jean and Bonnie had to
sit helpless, literally feet away from where Jackie would lay. During
these 65 hours the legal system would ostensibly shut down and
everyone would go to the beach over Memorial Day Weekend.

Well now we are at the end of that 65 hour period and I feel confident
in my heart that Jackie will be liberated from, as Dorothy Day would
say, “this dirty filthy rotten system” that keeps her in chains and
without the care she so desperately needs.

Over the past 48 hours you have been a part of a very large response
from people North to South and East to West, that have wrote, called,
planned and made contacts on behalf of our sister Jackie. This morning
Medical, Legal and Political representatives will weigh in on Jackie’s
behalf and I believe they will accomplish their objective.

Our main hope is that the courts will intervene and order Jackie either
released from Jail so that we might ensure her care or order the
Irwin County Detention Facility in Ocilla to send her to the Irwin
County Hospital immediately for proper evaluation and treatment.

Nothing short of this will be acceptable. I am making plans for going
to Ocilla soon and will send out word through this service when I
catch wind of any development.

I pray this day that the men and women, who will do all they can on
Jackie’s behalf, will be successful in ensuring she receives the care
she desperately needs.