WHAT: Rally to demand closure of new women’s prison in McFarland,
WHERE: McFarland Park, 100 Frontage Rd, McFarland,
WHEN: Thursday, July 31st, 5pm
Contact: Debbie Reyes, California Prison Moratorium Project, 559-367-6020
Misty Rojo, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 510-213-0522
MCFARLAND, CA – On Thursday, July 31st, communities impacted by incarceration, immigrant detention, and escalating violence against women and children will march to the site of a new women’s prison in McFarland to demand its immediate closure. Advocates will convene at McFarland Park, 100 Frontage Rd, McFarland, CA at 5pm.Anti-prison advocates from across the state will hold a rally as a stop on “Trail for Humanity,” an over 300-mile march during which women and children are walking from Merced to the Mexican border to raise awareness about the deadly conditions that immigrants endure, demanding comprehensive immigration reform and an end to deportations and detentions.The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has contracted with the GEO Group to run the McFarland prison on a budget that will cost California taxpayers $9 million a year. The GEO Group is a private company that currently operates detention centers and prisons around the country. The GEO group, like the State of California, has been challenged by prisoner hunger strikes, protests, and lawsuits due to the deplorable and inhumane conditions of their facilities. “ICE detention centers, California state prisons, and jails are an incredibly destructive force in the communities affected by them—that’s why we’re coming together to demand an end to this brutalization of our families and a turn toward healing solutions that are legitimately based in our communities,” says Misty Rojo, staff member of prisoner advocacy groups California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and Justice Now.
Imprisoned women and advocates argue that CDCR could easily implement programs to reduce crowding, and that wasting money on prison expansion has only proven to exacerbate the problem. “People being sent to McFarland are eligible for release under already established programs, and the money being spent to open this prison should be used for community-based re-entry services instead,” states Jess Heaney of Critical Resistance.
Alarming prison conditions are only intensified by the fact that the McFarland prison sits in Kern County, an area plagued by toxic environmental conditions. According to California Prison Moratorium Project (CPMP) organizer Debbie Reyes, “The city of McFarland is in an area known as an area where people have developed cancer at an alarming rate and a breeding ground for Valley Fever. Instead of reopening new prisons and exposing more people to the toxic health effects of this environment, all the prisons there should be shut down.”
At the rally in McFarland, community members, loved ones of imprisoned people, and advocates will make the link between the struggles against brutal conditions in immigrant detention centers and those endured by over 120,000 people locked up in California state prisons. Along with women and children participating in Trail of Humanity telling their stories and speaking about their demands, organizers with CCWP and CPMP will provide statements in solidarity and discuss their ongoing work fighting prison expansion in California.