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The New Eugenics is the Old Eugenics: Female Inmates Illegally Sterilized in California

July 07, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval:

Crystal Nguyen, a former inmate at Valley State Prison seen with son Neiko Nguyen, said she worked in the prison infirmary. She said she often heard the medical staff ask repeat offenders to agree to be sterilized. "I was like, 'Oh my God, that's not right,' " Nguyen recalls.

Crystal Nguyen, a former inmate at Valley State Prison seen with son Neiko Nguyen, said she worked in the prison infirmary. She said she often heard the medical staff ask repeat offenders to agree to be sterilized. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right,’ ” Nguyen recalls.

Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison.

Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that prison medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future….

The allegations echo those made nearly a half-century ago, when forced sterilizations of prisoners, the mentally ill and the poor were commonplace in California. State lawmakers officially banned such practices in 1979.

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CI: The PIC – Old School/New School

January 23, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

The PIC – Old School/New School
by nancy a heitzeg

Editors Note: For the past several  years now, I have taught courses on dismantling racism that encourage a critical examination of the prison industrial complex via direct on – site observation.  First in the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans — the incarceration capitals of the world. There is No Where to better explore the deep and undeniable connections between the old system of plantation slavery and its’ current manifestations in the contemporary prison industrial complex.

It is all revealed in brutal starkness at LSP Angola.  This is the nations’ largest maximum security prison and the only prison with its own zip code, houses more than 5200 inmates, all serving sentences of at least 30 years, most serving life.  Otherwise known as The Farm, Angola is located on the site of an old 18,000 acre plantation, converted after Reconstruction into a state penitentiary. Angola depends on neo-slave inmate labor starting at 2 cents per hour. The highest available wage for a few rare jobs is 20 cents per hour.

This year, we examined that the epicenter of the contemporary PIC – California, which until recently imprisoned in sheers numbers more than any state. More prisoners than Louisiana, than Florida, probably still more than Texas even if we count those transferred to county jails — nearly a quarter million locked away. Numbers so excessive they made the SCOTUS blink and declare that the extreme over-crowding must be reduced by as many as 46,000 inmates. This over-crowding is especially egregious at the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla, the world’s largest prison for women, which is currently housing nearly double capacity. (For those of you in California, please join the California Coalition for Women Prisoners Chowchilla Freedom Rally  on January 26 or support this in any way you can. More on that next week.)

It is California – the Golden Gulag –  that brings us the expansion of the modern pic – driven by a draconian three strikes law ( just recently revised), the proliferation of gang legislation, correctional spending that far outstrips educational investments, excessive use of solitary confinement and SuperMax conditions,  and a powerful police officer and prison guard union that stands in the way of any meaningful efforts to reduce mass incarceration.

The contrasts and connections between these two “leaders” in incarceration is instructive, as is an examination at the multitude of grassroots efforts at resistance. Because, yes, wherever there are cages –there are those seeking to open them.

You can read 10 million books, but there is no substitute ever for Being There. So in the next few weeks, CI will take a closer look at the Old School version of the prison industrial complex as exemplified by Louisiana and the New School configuration as evidenced in California. We will “be there” and see what lessons are revealed for all of us as we continue to challenge both the premises and practices of mass imprisonment.

I was reminded again recently of a provocative post by our comrades at Prison Culture: What Should We Make Of Prison Tourism? Always mixed feelings and a deep sense of obligation about visiting prisons both defunct and especially active. At least this: if you have been there you must report back. You must add your voice to the rising opposition.

One of my students — a woman who herself had done time in prison – put it best, with these remarks after a “tour” of Angola.

“Prisoners don’t have a voice,” she said”, “At least now they have 20 more.”

We Need a Million More.

Please join us.

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