From Crisis to Care: New Report Documents Health Harms of Women’s Prisons

Creator: Joel Carillet | Credit: Getty Images

By Belen Avelar 

OAKLAND, CA – A new report details how incarceration in women’s prisons “harms the health of cisgender women and transgender, gender-variant, and intersex people,” and recommends “investing in health-promoting community support instead.”

From Crisis to Care: Ending the Health Harm of Women’s Prisons,” has been released by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Human Impact Partners (HIP), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), and the Transgender Gender-variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP).

Incarceration rates in California and all over the United States have risen due to the overpopulation of people in prisons, and when looking at women’s prisons, “in February 2023, there were 3,651 people incarcerated,” according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

The report notes women’s prisons have been a long discussion over the years on whether the incarceration of women is helping reform them or just causing a cycle of trauma and never-ending violence.

And, the study said data from the CDCR shows, “California’s women’s prison population has decreased by 70.8 percent due to significant state policy changes.”

With data evidence from the CDCR, the report suggests “women’s prisons are said to represent less than four percent of the state’s incarcerated population.”

Because of that, the report said reform advocates pursuing a change to promote public health and criminal legal action will soon help close down the state’s last two remaining women’s prisons.

Advocates claim California recently took action by emptying the women’s Folsom State prison, to be shut down in 2023, although women serving their sentence in Folsom State prison were not offered the chance of an early release date, although almost being done with their sentence, which raises concern.

In addition, in an attempt to make a change in women’s prisons, advocates from CURB and allies said Gov. Newsom has closed three state prisons and is on the verge of closing more along the way.

“This report is a call to action for policymakers and communities to invest in programs and policies that support the health and well-being of all people in non-carceral settings,” said report author Dr. Christine Mitchell, project director at Human Impact Partners.

Mitchell added, “Closing California’s women’s prisons is a crucial step in ending the cycle of trauma and harm perpetuated by incarceration. We need more investments in our communities to provide the care and support people need to heal and thrive.”

About The Author

Belen Avelar is a senior at CSU Long Beach majoring in Criminal Justice/Criminology. She is obtaining her Bachelor's degree May of 2023. Following her graduation she plans to join the Gardena Police Department as a peace officer who wishes to expand her career further as a Homicide Detective. Her goal is to help those families whose family members have been killed and provide some type of comfort by figuring out the circumstances surrounding their death and who is responsible. Belen speaks both english and spanish fluently.

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