Monday, January 28, 2013
Inside the women's prison in Chowchilla
CBS 47 — Saturday afternoon at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally, hundreds protested overcrowding at Central California Women’s Facility. They used words like “torture.” One former prisoner said medical care is hard to find.
"It's very hard to get medical attention. When I was in here, I had problems getting my medication," said Sandra Johnson, a former inmate.
After the noise quieted, CBS47 was given special permission to film inside the prison, to see what it's really like. Prison staff hosted the tour, giving us access to speak freely with inmates.
“It's like everyone is in everybody's way and it causes problems. And we not trying to give the staff here no problems,” said Nora Lee McDonald, a 49-year-old inmate.
McDonald is one of about 3,700 inmates at CCWF. The prison was designed for about 2,000 inmates and is now over 180% occupied. It's one of the most over-capacity prisons in the state. It handles nearly double the women it was intended for by using bunk beds.
Eight women sleep in a typical room. There are four bunk beds, some lockers, a toilet, a shower and two sinks.
Miriam Elias used to be at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, but after the recent conversion to a men's facility, she moved here. Elias believes that transition was unfair because there's now less room for female prisoners, who she says, require more privacy and special considerations.continue reading...