Central California Women's Facility

Aminah Elster is the policy coordinator at the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and a formerly incarcerated person. She says the women inside the Chowchilla facility continue to tell her about unsafe living conditions even after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported the highest number of positive cases, 512, at the facility on Jan. 3. 

 

“The conditions are filthy. There’s dust everywhere, torn mattress, rusted bunks,” Elster says. “There’s little to no access to cleaning supplies.” 

 

Rudy Diaz / Central California Women's Facility

There’s a garden in Chowchilla off of Road 22 that’s surrounded by miles of farmland. Only women tend to this garden. There are wildflowers, succulents, lavender, thyme, and perennials to name a few.  

 

Sol Mercado helped build and design it a year and a half ago.

 

“We had mulch in our eyes, we had dirt. It was really hot, but we still pushed through and we got it done,” the 33-year-old says. “We were all working as a team and it was really nice.”