Frequently asked questions
Video 1 - Angela Davis
"We don’t need any new women’s prisons. As a matter of fact we don’t need any new prisons at all, certainly not in response to overcrowding. Overcrowding can be dealt with by releasing people from existing prisons. As the world engages in social distancing, people in prison are telling us that they are now under death sentences. The vast majority of women in prisons suffered gender violence before they were admitted and they continue to be targets of violence inside. Black women represent 4% of Washington state’s population but 18% of those in prison. To Governor Inslee - stop investing in racism. Stop criminalizing women, men, gender-nonconforming people, especially people of color. Redirect resources to housing, healthcare, education, and childcare."
Video 2 - Nikkita Oliver
"Good morning community, this is a call to action. Washington state is planning on building a new women’s prison in Thurston County and they are doing it on Cowlitz and Chehalis land. This prison will incarcerate - it will cage - 700 people. A fact for you: 98% of people in women’s prisons are survivors of violence. Prisons are brutal places. They are harmful places that endanger our communities. They do not create public safety. We want Washington to stop investing in these racist, sexist, anti-poor, ableist, homophobic, transphobic infrastructures and we demand a redirection of resources towards all the things that we know our communities needs. Things that we know help make communities safe. Like childcare, healthcare, housing, income support, educational opportunity. These are things that actually make our community safe. Not prisons.
The women’s prison that they are calling Maple Lane is being framed as humane. They are saying it’s a reentry-focused facility and that it’ll solve the cruel practice of overcrowding in women’s prisons. Overcrowding is definitely cruel, but what’s more cruel is putting a human being in a cage at all. So, what we’re demanding, what we’re saying the solution to overcrowding is, is releasing prisoners, not building more prisons. If you build it, they will fill it. If they build it, they will fill it. And they’re going to fill it with vulnerable, targeted people, people who come from marginalized communities. Black, indigenous, people of color, folks who come from low-income communities, people already brutalized by this very brutal and oppressive system. So this is a call to action. Stop building prisons. Do not build Maple Lane. The solution to overcrowding is not more prisons, it is stopping incarcerating people and meeting people’s needs."
Video 3 - Sabia
"Hey y’all, my name is Sabia, and I live in Seattle. I work with survivors of violence in community and in carceral spaces. My message is to Governor Inslee and Thurston County Commission and community members who are in support of the No New Women’s Prison campaign. I’m here to share that 98% of people in women’s prisons are survivors of violence themselves and to ask for us to stop imprisoning people and to stop the separation and the severing of relationships in families and communities and to redirect those resources to childcare and housing and healthcare. Thank you."
Video 4 - Angelica Cházaro
"Hi. I’m Angelica Cházaro. I’ve lived in Washington state since 2006 and I want to tell you my top three reasons Governor Inslee should stop the construction of a new women’s prison at Maple Lane in its tracks.
Number one: the best way to solve prison overcrowding is to release people from prison, not to build a new facility. If the DOC actually wants to support the women it is caging, it will let them go as soon as possible, not build them a set of fancy new cages.
Number two: prisons will never be the right solution for the social problems we face. In fact, we know that they exacerbate harm. This country’s experiment in mass incarceration is already a global embarrassment. Why would Washington state jump on a failed strategy of expanding mass incarceration when we all agree prisons are not the answer to anything?
Number three: we are seeing in real time what happens when the state imprisons people. It keeps them locked up even as a deadly pandemic, the most urgent health crisis in recent history, rages. Governor Inslee has failed to release people who are caged in prisons where it is impossible to keep social distance and where an outbreak would literally be a death sentence. Even when there isn’t a pandemic raging, prisons are a health hazard, taking two years off of someone’s life expectancy for every year they spend inside. Prisons kill. Let’s stop building them. It’s embarrassing that the plan to build a new women’s prison at Maple Lane got off the ground to begin with. State officials need to cancel this plan today."
Video 5 - JM Wong
"Women who are currently incarcerated at Purdy, the women’s prison in Gig Harbor, Washington have told us time and again they do not want gender-responsive prisons. What they want is rehabilitation, what they want is freedom, they want to be with their families, their children. They want to have time and space to heal from the trauma of state violence and domestic violence. So we reject the women’s prison. We know that this is a racist institution and especially in these times when it’s so clear that people need to be released from prison because the prisons are no place to be during the pandemic, DOC and Governor Inslee drag their feet and continue to create unsafe conditions for all communities."
Video 6 - Dean Spade
"I’m Dean Spade, I live in Washington state and I’m part of the campaign to stop the state from building a new women’s prison. This message is for Governor Inslee and the Thurston County Council. Please cancel your plans to build a new women’s prison. The last thing we need to be doing right now is expanding the infrastructure of racist violence in our state. As I’m sure you know, Washington is only 4% black but 18% of Washington’s prison population is black. Prisons are always a public health crisis. People in Washington state prisons experience medical neglect and nutritional deprivations regularly. They experience violence from COs. Being in a Washington state prison shortens people’s lives. That’s even more severe right now in the context of COVID-19 when of course we should be doing everything we can to let everyone out of prisons, which are death traps. This is also a key moment to decide to stop investing in this architecture of misery and instead moving those resources to what people in Washington really need: housing, income support, healthcare, childcare, and all the unmet basic human needs that are happening in our state. Please do the right thing and cancel this women’s prison right now."
Video 7 - Soya Jung
"Hey. This is Soya Jung and I’m really happy to be participating in the #FreeThemAll National Virtual Week of Action to Defend Survivors, End Carceral Feminism and I know this is a really hard time for all of us. We probably all know loved ones who are dealing with some aspect of the pandemic and are witnessing the brutality of the disparate impacts that this is having because of the accumulated injustices that exist structurally in our society. But this is also a time for us to push hard because everything, many things that we were told were impossible are now possible. It’s a revelatory moment. People are being let out of jails. Certain kinds of “offenders”, people who are close to parole, we know that this is possible and we know that more is possible, so this is a time for us not to back down and to keep pushing for our vision of justice. For those of us who have loved ones who have been through the brutality and the inhumanity of the carceral system, this is our moment.
So, I just wanted to read this poem that I really like because I’ve been thinking about it a lot, it kind of lays out a revolutionary kind of imagination of what we can achieve. It’s called, “Imagine the Angels of Bread”.
“This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges,
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.
This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.
If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.
So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread”
It’s a poem by Martín Espada. And I also just wanted to share with you some information about the fact that they’re trying to build a new women’s prison in Washington state, which we should oppose. First of all, 98% of people in women’s prisons are survivors of violence. Prison staff assault more than one-third of LGBTQ people in prison. Black women are two times as likely to be imprisoned for killing a partner in self-defense than white women. Black people make 4% of Washington state’s population but 18% of its prison population. This is a time when we need to think about our interdependence and think about alternatives to our carceral system that has been rapacious and devastating to so many of our communities. It does nothing to keep us safer. And I would invite you to join me in calling on Governor Inslee. His number is 360-902-4111 and tell him to stop plans to build this new women’s prison at Thurston county and instead to redirect resources to basic communities like housing, healthcare, childcare and income support.
And also to call the Thurston County commissioners and tell them to stop plans to build this new prison. John Hutchings’s phone number: 360-357-2470. Gary Edwards’s phone number: 360-786-5747. Tye Menser: 360-786-5414. I hope you’ll join me in saying no to more incarceration, to more harm in our communities, and to more criminalization of poor women, women of color in our state."
Video 8 - Rell Be Free
What’s up y'all, it’s Rell Be Free. Today is April 8th, 2020 and this week is a lot of organizing around anti-incarceration, abolition, and lifting up some of these things that are happening under our noses during this time of COVID-19. And one of the things that I want to bring up today is the women’s prison that’s being constructed and built in Maple Lane in Thurston County which is on Cowlitz and Chehalis indigineous land and it’s going to be housing - not housing, it’s going to be incarcerating - 700 women. And this is a problem y’all, it’s a problem that this is what our government is feeling is urgent use of our public funds and belief that prisons are still working as a solution when we know what the impact and effect really is.
Some of the standout statistics around this issue is that 98% of women that are incarcerated are survivors of violence. And so creating these spaces that is not empowering, creating these spaces that is going to continue the psychological and physical violence is unacceptable and we don’t need more prisons. We keep saying no new youth jail and we’re going to keep saying stop Maple Lane because this is not what we need, especially as the patriarchy continues to be rampant in our culture. You can best believe there’s probably a whole bunch of men that are pushing this agenda. We have community, alternatives and solutions and ideas on how we can elevate and restore the young women and the women that are being incarcerated at Maple Lane and we are vehemently against the construction of Maple Lane and we’re demanding a stop.
And so today, and throughout this week, y’all should be tagging and @-ing the governor amongst other people. We’re going to be posting some things on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram so be on the lookout for that. Look at the hashtags, look at the @’s, and we’re going to continue this throughout the week. Peep my Instagram page and I’ll be posting some statistics. Shoutout to all the organizers of Stop Maple Lane, I appreciate y’all and the work that y’all have been putting in, folks that have been standing on the frontlines this whole week. #FreeThemAll. We’re going to continue these movements. Shoutout to all the organizers, shoutout to all the people who are incarcerated right now that aren’t able to advocate for themselves on the outside. We’re standing with you, in love and revolution, and we’re going to continue pushing these messages until everyone is free. Àṣẹ, àṣẹ."