History of the Action Committee for Women in Prison
On October 5, 1999 a meeting was held with interested individuals and several representatives of the Wages for Housework Campaign. Margaret Prescod drafted a proposal to form the committee.
The proposal was accepted and the Women's Committee
was formed. Thandi Chimurenga became the chair. The Committee was called
various names ... the Women Prisoner Action Committee, the Women's Committee,
and the Women's Action Committee. Finally, in April 2001 it was decided
to call the committee the Action Committee for Women in Prison,
The committee supported legislation to improve conditions for prisoners and parolees and opposed legislation that would harm either group.
Representatives of the
The "Adopt an Elderly Woman" Program was initiated in June 2001 as a result of the suicide by hanging of a 60 year old woman at CIW on Mother's Day. This program was subsequently renamed the "Pen Pal Project".
In May 2002 the committee, through the CJC, received a grant for $25,000 from the California Endowment to address improving the health of women in prison. In May 2002 the Gina Muñiz Memorial Internship (honoring a woman who died of medical neglect by prison staff) was created at the CJC retreat for representatives of the Northern and Southern CJC Steering Committees. Sherrie Ross was selected as the Gina Muñiz intern and provided staff support for the committee for the entire grant period from a shared office in Long Beach. In May 2003, Gloria Killian completed a "Survey of Medical Care Provided to Women in California Prisons". Two hundred fifty copes were printed. The grant also provided funding for a "Women in Prison and Health Issues" Conference held at California State University Long Beach in March 2003, which was cosponsored by the Women's Resource Center at CSULB.
In August 2002 the ACWIP organized the Los Angeles demonstration at the State Building as part of a statewide protest of Gov Davis' denial of parole for women given dates by the Board of Prison Terms At the end of 2002 organizational conflicts occurred between the Tides Foundation and the Criminal Justice Consortium and between the Northern and Southern California CJCs. The ACWIP voted, at its February 2003 meeting, to continue to act independently as an informal association.
In May 2003 it was decided that ACWIP would incorporate and would seek a nonprofit agency to act as umbrella agency until incorporation is complete. Susan Burton, after serving 2 years a Chair, nominated Gloria Killian for the position to which she was elected at the May 2003 meeting.
In June 2003 a representative from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners met with ACWIP to discuss ways in which the groups through out CA that focus on women's issues could work together more effectively.
ACWIP joined several other organizations fighting for inmate rights and decent post-incarceration treatment December 2003 for the first Statewide congregation of prisoner's rights groups. We continue to network and fight for compassionate treatment of women who are or who have been incarcerated.
Recently, ACWIP has been actively involved in the Maria Suarez Case. We are working closely with representative Hilda Solis.