On Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 3:14 PM the following email was sent to all staff At Valley State Prison for Women:
Good afternoon all. This is to inform you that effective immediately, VSPW will be suspending All Self-Help programs. As such, NO Self-Help related work should be performed by any Self-Help sponsor, until further notice. This would include ducats, paperwork, or groups. Please ensure that you share this with any interested person who may not have access to email. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Velda
I am currently a friend of an inmate at Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) and the domestic partner of a recently released VSPW inmate. I am disturbed about such an email being sent by someone with the authority to uphold the rehabilitation of incarcerated women. Women need all the help that they can receive and eliminating Self-Help groups hinders their growth and rehabilitation.
Self Help groups do not interfere with safety of the institution, the staff job assignments, or the staff’s count procedures. Neither do the Self-Help groups interfere with inmate work/program hours.
There are over 30 Self-Help groups in VSPW. These groups include, but are not limited to: AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA(Narcotics Anonymous), CODA (Co-dependency), Yoga, PREP (Personal Readiness Enrichment Program), CCA (Coalition of Cultural Awareness), Sign Language, Prison of Peace, Anger Management, Cage Your Rage, A Place Called Self, Long Termers Organization, Creative Conflict Resolution, Health and Education Awareness, Domestic Violence, Free From Abuse, Battered Women's, Career Day, Freedom to Choose, Beyond Incarceration, Beyond Trauma, AWARE, Alternative to Violence, I Want My Life Back, Life Scripting, Parenting, and the Veterans. All of these groups contribute to institution's goal of rehabilitation for women and aid in lowering the recidivism rate.
Women volunteer their own time to teach groups, attend groups and learn tools that will enable them to become better citizens of our communities. Volunteers that are state funded or operating at their own expense are being turned away as welt. Once someone is convicted and sent to prison it is their responsibility to prepare for the day that they return to society. When programs stop or are interrupted, there is much less opportunity for women to learn tools that will enable them to return to society successfully.
It is our duty as tax payers to encourage and monitor that elected officials hire and choose wardens who promote rehabilitation as an actual part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation department.
We expect that public notice be given when such a drastic measure as elimination of all Self-Help groups is taken. We also want a reasonable explanation as to why such a drastic measure is to be taken.