Join the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) in our statewide campaign to DROP LWOP and secure sentence commutations for all people serving Life Without Parole (LWOP) in California.
On Monday, August 6th, 2018, CCWP joined CURB and many other organizations to deliver the letter below to Governor Brown asking him to change all LWOP sentences to parole-eligible sentences (over 100 organizations signed the letter!). We also held a powerful rally on the steps of the capitol to join forces in our fight against LWOP and all extreme sentencing.
A delegation delivered the letter to Governor Brown, as well as banners created by the LWOP support group at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF).
Speakers shared their own stories and the stories of loved ones currently imprisoned in California with LWOP sentences.
Over 5000 people are serving LWOP sentences in California prisons. People of color are disproportionately sentenced to LWOP and of the nearly 200 people serving LWOP in CA women’s prisons, the overwhelming majority are survivors of abuse, including intimate partner battering, childhood abuse, sexual violence, and sex trafficking. You can learn about their stories through A Living Chance – the digital story project that helped start the DROP LWOP Campaign. Learn more about DROP LWOP here…
As Governor Brown nears the end of his term, he has granted a number of commutations for people serving LWOP sentences. While commuting a sentence does not guarantee release from prison, it does guarantee that each person will have the right to see the parole board in their lifetime, rather than being sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison under a “living death penalty.”
We celebrate the commutation of each and every person, and call for the commutation of all other people with LWOP sentences in California prisons.
Will you join us? We are looking for organizations and individuals to sign on to the letter below as a first step in expressing support for this campaign. Click here to sign the letter and click here to see which organizations have already signed on!
DROP LWOP letter to Governor Brown
Dear Governor Brown,
As grassroots, advocacy, and social justice organizations, we are writing to urge you to commute the sentences of all people serving Life Without Parole (LWOP) in California’s prisons to parole-eligible sentences.
Life Without Parole sentencing is increasingly being challenged and limited across the United States. We believe that life without parole is inhumane. It denies that people have the capacity to change, grow and be rehabilitated, and thus is known as “the other death penalty” by those serving it and by their families.
As you know, many states, including California, are legislating against sentencing youth to Life Without Parole.[i] Now it is time to take action to mitigate the impact for all people sentenced to die in prison due to this endless punishment. While commuting a sentence does not guarantee release from prison, it does guarantee that each person will have the right to see the parole board in their lifetime, rather than being sentenced to a “living death.”
People of color are disproportionately sentenced to LWOP, revealing prosecutorial bias and racial discrimination.[ii] Of the nearly 200 people serving LWOP in CA women’s prisons, the overwhelming majority are survivors of abuse, including intimate partner battering, childhood abuse, sexual violence and sex trafficking. [iii] Additionally, the majority are first-time “offenders,” and had no record prior to being sentenced to Life Without Parole.
All 5,000 people serving LWOP in CA prisons are subjected to institutional discrimination, such as:
- They are barred from rehabilitation programs, including the majority of state-run self-help programs because of their sentences.
- Though they are required to pay restitution, they are only eligible for jobs that pay the lowest hourly wage, currently only eight cents per hour. Because they are barred from access to higher wage opportunities, they often cannot pay restitution, and this economic burden falls on their families.
- They are ineligible for Elder Parole and Compassionate Release when aging and terminally ill.
We urge you to take a bold stance against Life Without Parole sentencing and let California serve as a model for the rest of our nation. Please continue to take leadership on this issue and commute all those sentenced to LWOP to parole-eligible sentences, initiate a process to eliminate life without parole from the California Penal Code, and provide people sentenced to LWOP with opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption.
|5C Prison Abolition|
|A New Way of Life Reentry|
|Advocates Delivering Love|
|All of Us or None|
|All of Us or None San Diego|
|Bethel Baptist Jail/Prison Ministry|
|California Coalition for Women Prisoners|
|California Prison Focus|
|CALIFORNIA PRISON MORATORIUM PROJECT|
|Claremont Students For Justice in Palestine|
|Cole Family Child Care|
|Communities United for Restortive Youth Justice (CURYJ)|
|Conservatives for Sentencing Reform|
|Criminal Justice Initiative Funding Circle|
|Critical Resistance Los Angeles|
|CURB- Californians United for a Responsible Budget|
|Decarcerate Alameda County|
|Do No Harm Coalition|
|Ella Baker Center for Human Rights|
|End Solitary Santa Cruz|
|Essie Justice Group|
|Fair Chance Project|
|Felony Murder Elimination Project|
|Flying Over Walls / SF Bay Area Black & Pink|
|Freedom Is A Constant Struggle|
|Fresno Stonewall Democrats|
|Friend Karen Greenberger|
|Friends Committee on Legislation of CA|
|Gangstas to Growers/ The Come Up Project|
|Gellybean’s Prison Outreach|
|Healing Dialogue and Action|
|Human Rights Pen Pals|
|Human Rights Watch|
|Insight Garden Program|
|INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL|
|Journey to the Well|
|Know Your Rights Org|
|Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights|
|Legal Services for Prisoners with Children|
|LWOP: Lifers With Optimistic Progress https://liferswithoptimisticprogress.wordpress.com|
|Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project|
|Mommieactivist and Sons|
|National Network for Women in Prison|
|Oakland Community Organizations|
|Occupy The Hood Orlando|
|Phillips Black Project|
|Phillips Black, Inc.|
|Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project|
|Prison Abolition Club|
|Prison Activist Resource Center, Oakland CA|
|Prison Policy Initiative|
|Prisoner Advocacy Network|
|Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition|
|Project Rebound, California State University, Fullerton|
|Public Health Justice Collective|
|Red Bay Coffee|
|Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center|
|Safe Return Project|
|San Francisco Bay View newspaper|
|Showing Up for Racial Justice Oakland/Bay Area|
|Southern Califas Pintero Arte|
|Starting Over, Inc|
|Survived & Punished|
|The Alliance for Boys and Men of Color|
|The Immigrant Youth Coalition|
|The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls|
|The Praxis Project|
|The Real Cost of Prisons Project|
|UA Local 342 Steamfitters|
|University of California, Santa Cruz Students for Sensible Drug Policy|
|USC Law Post-Conviction Justice Project|
|We the People Org|
|Western Regional Advocacy Project|
|Witness to Mass Incarceration|
|Women & Justice Issues Consulting|
|Women Prison Book Project|
|WOMEN RISING RADIO|
|Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers|
|Youth Justice Coalition|
DemocratsFriend Karen GreenbergerFriends Committee on Legislation of CAFUELGangstas to Growers/ The Come Up ProjectGellybean’s Prison OutreachHealing Dialogue and ActionHOMIES UNIDOSHuman Rights Pen PalsHuman Rights WatchInitiate JusticeInsight Garden ProgramINTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMALJourney to the WellJustice NowKnow Your Rights OrgLawyers’ Committee for Civil RightsLegal Services for Prisoners with ChildrenLWOP: Lifers With Optimistic Progress https://liferswithoptimisticprogress.wordpress.comMichigan Women’s Justice & Clemency ProjectMommieactivist and SonsNational Network for Women in PrisonOakland Community OrganizationsOccupy The Hood OrlandoParadigm StrategyPhillips Black ProjectPhillips Black, Inc.PolicyLinkPrison + Neighborhood Arts ProjectPrison Abolition ClubPrison Activist Resource Center, Oakland CAPrison Policy InitiativePrisoner Advocacy NetworkPrisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity CoalitionPrisonwatch NetworkProject ALOFAProject Rebound, California State University, FullertonPublic Health Justice CollectiveRed Bay CoffeeRenaissance Entrepreneurship CenterSafe Return ProjectSan Francisco Bay View newspaperShowing Up for Racial Justice Oakland/Bay AreaSin BarrasSouthern Califas Pintero ArteStarting Over, IncSurvived & PunishedThe Alliance for Boys and Men of ColorThe Immigrant Youth CoalitionThe National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and GirlsThe Place4GraceThe Praxis ProjectThe Real Cost of Prisons ProjectUA Local 342 SteamfittersUniversity of California, Santa Cruz Students for Sensible Drug PolicyUSC Law Post-Conviction Justice ProjectWe the People OrgWestern Regional Advocacy ProjectWitness to Mass IncarcerationWomen & Justice Issues ConsultingWomen Prison Book ProjectWOMEN RISING RADIOWomen’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social WorkersYouth Justice Coalition
[i] Senate Bill 9: Fair Sentencing for Youth. http://fairsentencingforyouth.org/legislation/senate-bill-9-california-fair-sentencing-for-youth/
[ii] “Racial Disparities in Sentencing,” American Civil Liberties Union, Hearing on Reports of Racism in the Justice System of the United States, Submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 153rd Session, October 27, 2014.
[iii] Data gathered by CCWP members incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility and California Institution for Women. This data reflects national statistics reported by the ACLU that nearly 60% of people in women’s prisons nationwide are survivors of physical or sexual abuse, and that survivors make up 94% of the population in some women’s prisons. “Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003,” American Civil Liberties Union. https://www.aclu.org/other/prison-rape-elimination-act-2003-prea?redirect=prisoners-rights-womens-rights/prison-rape-elimination-act-2003-prea