REPORT: CA Women’s Prisons — Sexual Abuse Response and Prevention Working Group


In response to ongoing reports of sexual abuse by prison staff, the Solidarity Committee for Incarcerated Survivors was formed in December 2022 by Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Survived & Punished CA, and UnCommon Law. Following lawsuits, media coverage, and a briefing at the State Capitol about this abuse, the California Budget Act of 2023 created the opportunity for advocates to form a response and prevention working group to address this rampant sexual violence. Additional partners in the working group include Just Detention International, Justice First, and VALOR, with staff from the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation providing feedback.

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This working group spoke directly with people incarcerated at Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) and California Institution for Women (CIW) at “town hall” meetings where people shared their firsthand experiences and perspectives. These conversations were the foundation of our report to the CA Legislature uncovering the root causes of staff sexual violence in these carceral settings – and recommending actionable changes for real abuse prevention and survivor support measures. 

Most importantly, this report makes recommendations based on insights and analysis from over 700 people incarcerated at CCWF and CIW whose lived experiences provide invaluable perspective about which corrective and protective actions create safety or generate harm.

The report emphasizes the critical need for reform in how sexual assault and harassment cases are handled within the state’s carceral system, particularly within women’s prisons. It calls for protections for whistleblowers, access to trauma-informed support for survivors, and the handling of misconduct allegations against staff members, making recommendations aimed at rectifying the root causes of ongoing sexual abuse within these facilities.

All this provides context for why no carceral system has been able to eliminate abuse at the hands of staff – and why the only pathway to true safety for survivors is their release and return to their families and communities

Our hope is for this report to serve as an illuminating resource for the general community on how and why so many incarcerated people are subject to sexual violence in the prison system, and for the Legislature to advance these concrete recommendations to improve support and safeguards for incarcerated people.

Read our response to CDCR's Report to the Legislature on Sexual Assault Response and Prevention.