From the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP):
CCWF Conditions Deteriorate
COVID cases are rising rapidly at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) with over 500 people who have tested positive. We are hearing from incarcerated people that conditions are continuing to deteriorate. CDCr staff continue to not wear masks and more and more people are being sent to filthy cells in Covid quarantine where they are unable to communicate with loved ones or report on conditions to the outside world. Further, Covid-positive people who are demanding better conditions are facing additional isolation and punishment.
PLEASE USE THE PHONE/EMAIL SCRIPT BELOW TO CONTACT THE FOLLOWING OFFICES:
- CCWF Warden Pallares: (559) 665-5531, ext. 6002; Mike.Pallares@cdcr.ca.gov
- CCWF Health Care Access: (559) 665-5531, ext. 5530
- CCWF Warden for Housing: (559) 665-5531, ext. 5148
- CCWF Custody Captain: (559) 665-5531, ext. 5565
- Federal Healthcare Receiver Clark Kelso: (916) 739-7000
- CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison: (916) 324-7308, press 8 & leave message
My name is _____ and, alongside incarcerated people at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), I have serious concerns regarding the rapid increase of COVID at CCWF. In just two weeks, COVID-19 cases rose to over 500, making CCWF among the top cluster of cases in CDCR prisons. I strongly urge you to take the following crucial steps:
- Provide urgently needed healthcare, including mental health care, to people in quarantine.
- Implement a clear plan that minimizes movement, keeps people in possession of their property, and allows people to recover in a more calm environment.
- Stop retaliation against incarcerated people who demand life-saving changes to quarantine conditions.
- Ensure access to telephones, tablets, and electricity so that those placed in quarantine can maintain contact with their loved ones.
- Enforce mask use by CDCR staff and mandatory sick leave for staff who show any symptoms of illness and/or who test positive for COVID-19.
- Provide access to showers, laundry, clean N95 masks, gloves, and sufficient amounts of disinfectant.
- Expedite release for medically vulnerable, and elderly people regardless of conviction.
Thousands of our community members’ lives are on the line. We urge you to use your power to intervene and save lives.
CCWP‘s Open Letter to Prison Officials & Legislators- Continued Action Needed
We are extremely concerned by how CCWF is handling this explosive outbreak of COVID-19. In just two weeks, COVID-19 cases rose to over 500, making CCWF among the top cluster of cases in CDCR prisons. The prison’s ineffective protocols and gross negligence have put many people in danger and caused unnecessary stress, confusion, and fear. For many of the people incarcerated at CCWF, their everyday experience is now one of chaos, extreme discomfort, and terror, where policies appear inconsistent and in many cases non-existent, and where there appears to be nothing in place to alleviate suffering and the very real threat of death.
In particular, we are concerned about the following:
- People in quarantine are not receiving regular medical check ups, including those who are returning from the hospital. This is a priority need. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 need regular medical attention. We demand that CDCR provide urgently needed healthcare, including mental health care, to people in quarantine at CCWF.
- Across the institution, CDCR is implementing chaotic moves, moving people from room to room, across units, and across yards with no clear plan or communication and often without any warning. Some people have been relocated as often as three times in two days. These moves mix the sick with those who have tested negative and cause panic and disorientation among people who are already sick and overwhelmed. CDCR must implement a clear plan that minimizes movement and allows people to recover in a more calm environment with adequate health care services.
- With each move, people are forced to pack quickly and abandon their property, including legal paperwork, with reports emerging of staff removing belongings from people’s rooms in their absence without clear mechanisms for retrieval. These displacements can seriously impact individual’s BPH hearings and legal cases.
- We have heard multiple accounts of staff harassing, mocking, and shaming people who have tested positive. People have also experienced threats of retaliation and have been issued 115s for speaking up about the conditions that they face. We demand an end to retaliation against incarcerated people who are fighting for life-saving changes to their quarantine conditions.
- People in quarantine are not being provided consistent access to communication. This includes access to phones as well as to electricity to charge tablets, both of which are critical to maintaining contact to support networks outside, and critical to mental health during a crisis. CDCR must ensure access to telephones, tablets, and electricity so that those placed in quarantine can maintain contact with their loved ones.
- Conditions inside quarantine units are dusty and filthy. CDCR must provide access to showers, laundry, clean N95 masks, gloves, and sufficient amounts of disinfectant and cleaning supplies for people in quarantine.
- We demand that CDCR do everything possible to expedite releases for medically vulnerable and elderly people regardless of conviction. In light of the worsening outbreak, CDCR must also enforce mask use by all staff and mandatory sick leave for staff who show any symptoms of illness and/or who test positive for COVID-19.
We urge you to seriously consider these issues and to implement increased oversight of staff in all units during the pandemic. We are particularly concerned about treatment in the COVID-19 quarantine units, where staff bias and fear may be contributing to mistreatment. We are also concerned about the risk of retaliation for incarcerated people who are reporting mistreatment.
Since CDCR’s announcements in March and July of 2020 that they would reduce the population to prevent the spread of infection, we have been troubled that there is no significant action to expedite releases for the most medically vulnerable people in CDCR prisons, including CCWF. We ask you to make every effort to convey this urgency to Governor Newsom and CDCR leadership, and to do everything in your power to support expedited releases. In particular, we encourage you to make full use of the 1170(d)(1) resentencing process by encouraging your staff to make recommendations, especially for those most at-risk to the deadly impacts of COVID-19.
This is an urgent situation that must be addressed. We have continued to document these problems and concerns since the onset of the pandemic and now, nearly a year later, find that very little has been done to prevent the spread or mitigate the impact of this deadly pandemic within CCWF. We urge you to act immediately given the increasingly dire situation that people face in your facility.
See the CCWP website for more detailed accounts of the unacceptable and unsafe conditions.