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Dignity for Women Prisoners May 12 in LA

by Corey Weinstein Monday, May. 07, 2007 at 4:13 PM

May 12 in LA the Dignity for Women Prisoners Campaign will hold a community forum to kick off our campaign to have male guards relieved of assignment in women's housing units in CA prisons.

Contact: Pat Parker 323-816-4316
Dr. Corey Weinstein 415-333-8228

Saturday May 12, 2007:

Community Forum: 11:00 a.m. WLCAC - Phoenix Hall 10950 South Central Ave. L.A., CA 90059

Why Stop Male Officers from Guarding Women Prisoners Inside Their Housing Units?

Los Angeles, CA - It was 1.5 years ago that women prisoners in California were relieved of the burden of one part of officially sanctioned sexual abuse. In response to demands by California Prison Focus the Director of Corrections ordered the end to routine cross gender pat searches. Since September 2005 male corrections officers can no longer physically search women prisoners. During CPF’s investigative visits to the three women’s’ prisons the women inside have told us that the ban has held. That victory was the first step in stopping official sexual abuse of women in our prisons. A more difficult task lies ahead. And it is to that effort that we invite your participation. In time for the celebration of Mothers Day, California Prison Focus has once again taken the lead in progressive reform. CPF’s Dignity for Women Prisoners Campaign seeks to have male custodial staff be relieved of assignment to women’s housing units. The presence of male officers in the housing areas is sexually abusive. Men have visual and physical access to women at all times of the day and night. Such access leads to the frequent visual, verbal and physical abuse the women must endure.

“It’s Not A Question Of Guilt It’s an Issue Of Dignity”

Los Angeles, CA - Please join us in creating a community dialogue. Panel discussions with Faith Leaders, Prison Activists and formerly incarcerated women. Keynote address by former CRC Warden Joanne Gordon. California Prison Focus is organized to end human rights abuses and torture in California prisons including abolishing the Security Housing Units, to end medical neglect and to insure civil and human rights for all prisoners. CPF achieves its purposes by visiting prisoners, monitoring conditions, educating the public and policymakers, providing a voice for and working with prisoners, and encouraging legal advocacy.

California holds the largest number of women prisoners of any US State, and has the two largest prisons for women in the world in Chowchilla. CA with 30 million people incarcerates 10,800 women. Germany with 80 million holds 800 women. CA has among the highest percentage of male officers working in female prisons: 66% vs. 41% elsewhere. The sexually assaultive routine cross gender pat search of women prisoners was stopped in September 2005 after a Community campaign.

International human rights standards require that female prisoners only be attended by female officers.[1] Male staff such as doctors and teachers may provide professional services in women’s prisons, but should always be accompanied by female officers. Such measures designed solely to protect the rights and special status of women shall not be deemed to be discriminatory.[2] In December of 2004 the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled in a landmark decision that authorized the Michigan Department of Corrections’ ban on male staff in women’s housing units as a bona fide occupational qualification.[3]

“These Are Our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Friends. If We Don’t Speak For Them Who Will?”

[1] Rules 53(2) and 53(3) of the UN standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

[2] UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention 5(2)

[3] Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections (02-2028/2033/2084), Everson v. MI Department of Corrections, 12/3/04

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