Letter’s For Avis – October 1st – Come Out!

Please join the Women in Prison Defense Committee on Tuesday, October 1, from 7-9 pm at the Big Idea Bookstore, to write letters in support of Avis Lee, who has applied for commutation. We will provide letter writing materials and additional information about Avis’s case and other campaigns we are working on. Avis is an excellent candidate for commutation, and she needs public support!

art by Lydia Crumbley
art by Lydia Crumbley

Avis’s story:
When Avis was 18, she was involved in a robbery in which Robert Walker was killed. She and her brother and friend never intended to kill anyone. Avis is remorseful and takes responsibility for her involvement in the crime.

Avis was across the street during the robbery, acting as a lookout. She didn’t pull the trigger. She was sentenced to life without parole under the Felony Murder Rule which makes any participants in a felony criminally liable for deaths that occur during that crime. Avis attempted to help the victim by telling a bus driver there was an injured man in the parking lot.

Avis is 52 years old. She has been in prison for 32 years.

As an aging women, Avis is a low risk for re-offending. It will cost taxpayers about $40,000 a year to continue her incarceration.

Avis has a business degree and career skills.
Avis has a home plan and a life plan.
Avis has community support.

Cambridge Springs prison, where she is housed, supports her release!


Netflix Series on Women in Prison Spawns Dialogue around Race, Media and Prisons

The Cast of Orange is the New Black

The Netflix TV series, Orange is the New Black, has inspired many opinions about race, representation, and women in prison in the media.

When a couple members of The Women in Prison Defense Committee visited Avis Lee last week, she was next in line to read the book. Can’t wait to hear what Avis thinks!

Here are some thoughts and critiques circulating the web about the TV series which is different then the book:

White is the New White – by Auro Bogado – The Nation

The Soapbox: Is ‘Orange is the New Black’ Education or Entertainment – by Shanelle Matthews – The Frisky

Why I don’t Watch Orange is the New Black by Allison Samuels – The Daily Beast

Orange is Not the New Black by – Feminist Griote

Member of Cast on Melissa Harris Perry show – MSNBC

Orange is the New Black – 7 things we should talk about by Gabrielle – Autostraddle

Orange is the New Black got you upset about Prisons? by Dylan Matthews- Washington Post

White Chick Behind Bars -by Yasmin Nair- In These Times

Five Formerly Incarcerated Women on Prisons, Relationships and Orange is the New Black by Kat Stoeffel- New York Mag

Why We Love Orange is the New Black by Zerlina Maxwell – Ebony

On Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Jenji Kohan on Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Orange is the New Black Approved for Prison Broadcasting by Oren Mendez – Huffington Post

Documentaries about Women in Prison

Charisse Shumate – Fighting for our Lives

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners

Mothers of Bedford

Cruel and Unusual; Transgender Women in Prison

Women In Prison – Beyond Media Education

Afrofeminist Film Review of ‘Beautiful Sentence’ Women in Prison writing Poetry for Healing and Salvation by Spectra

Thanks to Bekezela and Dana for some of the links!


Street Teams at Unblurred

The Women in Prison Defense Committee had their first street team outreach at Unblurred First Fridays Art Crawl on Penn Ave in Garfield. The team talked with people about the campaign to free Avis Lee from prison and asked people to sign postcards to support her commutation. The postcards are addressed and mailed to the board of pardons, asking for a public hearing. We are trying to send 1,000 pieces of mail to the Board of Pardons by the end of September. If you would like to donate postcard stamps or join a street team at an upcoming event please contact us at

photo2   photo1


Justice for Etana and Mecca Shakur

Black Riders Liberation Party Members Arrested by Inglewood Police Department


On Tuesday April 30th 2013, Black Riders Liberation Party members Mecca and Etana Shakur were harassed, assaulted and arrested by the Inglewood Police Department while selling newspapers and politicking with the people on Century and Crenshaw in Inglewood, California.

This attack comes in the aftermath of the party being honored by the Black Panther Party Alumni Association with the “Continuing the Struggle” Award. This award was presented at a fundraising event for Elder Freeman’s trip to Cuba to fight cancer.

The BRLP, being one of the first groups to seriously push a hard line in Oakland and Los Angeles for support of Elder Freeman, was in attendance to assist with security and personal escort for Kathleen Cleaver. Kathleen Cleaver presented this award to General T.A.C.O. and the BRLP for 17 plus years of revolutionary service to the community.

The recognition and support from this award some might say is long overdue. The torch has been passed and the generational gap between the elders and the youth is beginning to be filled with mutual respect and cooperation.

Comrades Mecca and Etana Shakur are high ranking central committee members, mothers and servants of the people who have been actively organizing many revolutionary programs throughout the Los Angeles area. Comrade Mecca Shakur is the BRLP’s Minister of Information and Comrade Etana Shakur is the Minister of Community Programs.

1000006_10151807649484808_1631420546_nPeople packed the Inglewood Courthouse on Wednesday, July 31 2013 to demand Justice for Etana and Mecca Shakur, who are both warriors who have put their lives on the line countless times for the people, and are in need of support. Mecca and Etana are charged with alleged assault and battery on a police officer after they were approached by police while educating people in their community and selling the African Inter-Communal News Service papers.

The Hands Off Africa Movement, initiated by the BRLP, is demanding Hands Off Etana and Mecca Shakur, drop all charges! The campaign, which is on-going, is organizing for Justice for Trayvon; support for the prison hunger strikers; to free all political prisoners; and to withdraw all racist US/NATO forces from Africa. They also demand Hands Off Assata Shakur and Cuba.

The BRLP is raising legal funds and awareness, and are gathering witnesses and legal support and will keep everyone updated as to ways to support our comrades.


For more information, contact the BRLP at 323-289-4457, or


Stop the Legal Lynching of a Black Domestic Violence Survivor By Florida’s Racist Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws


See Marissa Speak on Anderson Cooper 

Hear Marissa’s Lawyer Speak

Sign the Petition For Marissa

Check Out Marissa’s Tumbler Page

Check Out the Facebook Page

marissa sign
Oakland, CA march for Marissa after Trayvon verdict

Marissa Alexander Gets 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot -May 19, 2012

By MITCH STACY TAMPA, Fla. Huffington Post– Marissa Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody got hurt, but this month a northeast Florida judge was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins, knew it was coming. She had claimed self-defense, tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law and rejected plea deals that could have gotten her a much shorter sentence. A jury found her guilty as charged: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun while committing a felony, Florida’s mandatory-minimum gun law dictated the 20-year sentence.

Her case in Jacksonville has drawn a fresh round of criticism aimed at mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. The local NAACP chapter and the district’s African-American congresswoman say blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by the wrong-headed statute. Alexander is black.

It also has added fuel to the controversy over Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which the judge would not allow Alexander to invoke. State Attorney Angela Corey, who also is overseeing the prosecution of shooter George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, stands by the handling of Alexander’s case. Corey says she believes Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.

Oakland, Ca march for Marissa after Trayvon Verdict – July 2013

At the May 11 sentencing, Alexander’s relatives begged Circuit Judge James Daniel for leniency but he said the decision was “out of my hands.”

“The Legislature has not given me the discretion to do what the family and many others have asked me to do,” he said.

The state’s “10-20-life” law was implemented in 1999 and credited with helping to lower the violent crime rate. Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life.

Critics say Alexander’s case underscores the unfair sentences that can result when laws strip judges of discretion. About two-thirds of the states have mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, mostly for drug crimes, according to a website for the Families Against Mandatory Minimums advocacy group.

“We’re not saying she’s not guilty of a crime, we’re not saying that she doesn’t deserve some sort of sanction by the court,” said Greg Newburn, Florida director for the group. Rather, he said, the judge should have the authority to decide an appropriate sanction after hearing all the unique circumstances of the case.

U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, has been an advocate for Alexander. Brown was present at the sentencing, where she and Corey had a brief, terse exchange afterward as sign-toting supporters rallied outside the courthouse.

“The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today,” Brown said afterward. “One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the `Stand Your Ground Law’ will not apply to them. … The second message is that if you are black, the system will treat you differently.”

Victor Crist was a Republican state legislator who crafted the “10-20-life” bill enacted in 1999 in Gov. Jeb Bush’s first term. He said Alexander’s sentence – if she truly did fire a warning shot and wasn’t trying to kill her husband – is not what lawmakers wanted.

“We were trying to get at the thug who was robbing a liquor store who had a gun in his possession or pulled out the gun and threatened someone or shot someone during the commission of the crime,” said Crist, who served in the state House and Senate for 18 years before being elected Hillsborough County commissioner.

On Aug. 1, 2010, Alexander was working for a payroll software company. She was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they’d had a baby together just nine days before. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes, family members said.

An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle and retrieved the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall, which ricocheted into the ceiling.

black lives matter
click image for information about graphic

Gray testified that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claims she was the aggressor, and he had begged her to put away the weapon.

A judge threw out Alexander’s “stand your ground” self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside. Alexander rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence and chose to go to trial. A jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting her.

“The irony of the 10-20-life law is the people who actually think they’re innocent of the crime, they roll the dice and take their chances, and they get the really harsh prison sentences,” Newburn said. “Whereas the people who think they are actually guilty of the crime take the plea deal and get out (of prison) well before. So it certainly isn’t working the way it is intended.”

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on Gray. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

Her family says that doesn’t erase the fact that a relatively law-abiding person – a woman with a master’s degree – who was making positive contributions to society will endure prison for two decades over a single violation in which no one was hurt.

“She had a restraining order against him. Now Marissa is incarcerated and he’s not,” said her father, Raoul Jenkins. “I’m wrestling with that in my mind and trying to determine how the system worked that detail out. It’s really frustrating.”

Newburn says Alexander’s case is not an isolated incident, and that people ensnared by mandatory-minimum laws cross racial barriers.

In central Florida, a white man named Orville Lee Wollard is nearly two years into a 20-year sentence for firing his gun inside his house to scare his daughter’s boyfriend. Prosecutors contended that Wollard was shooting at the young man and missed.

He rejected a plea deal that offered probation but no prison time. Like Alexander, he took his chances at trial and was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm. Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen said he was “duty bound” by the 10-20-life law to impose the harsh sentence.

“I would say that, if it wasn’t for the minimum mandatory aspect of this, I would use my discretion and impose some separate sentence, having taken into consideration the circumstances of this event,” Jacobsen said.


Horrendous Living Conditions in California Prison for Women

Chowchilla Inmates Suffer within Solitaire Confinement and Overcrowding


Women in Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) are reporting being held in solitaire confinement for months, following the closure of Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) for use as a male facility. CCWF, which is located just down the road from the former VSPW, is now one of three female facilities in California. Due in part to the closure of VSPW, CCWF is currently at 174.9 percent capacity, housing approximately 1,500 more people than it was designed for.

Despite threats of retaliation against the inmates, prisoner advocacy organizations Justice Now and California Coalition for Women Prisoners received over 1,000 declarations from people inside CCWF and the nearby Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) highlighting a lack of basic medical care, increased tension and conflicts among prisoners due to crowding, increased lockdowns, and seriously reduced access to jobs, programs and legal resources. Those on the inside describe their conditions as gender discrimination and a violation of their civil and human rights.

Among the individuals arriving from VSPW are an unknown number of women who have been held in Administrative Segregation upon the closure of VSPW in January. Six months ago, the programming inmates at VSPW were told they would be housed in Ad Seg for a period of 10 days pending proper placement due to the re-purposing of VSPW to a male facility.Prisoners received over 1,000 declarations from people inside CCWF and the nearby Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) highlighting a lack of basic medical care, increased tension and conflicts among prisoners due to crowding, increased lockdowns, and seriously reduced access to jobs, programs and legal resources. Those on the inside describe their conditions as gender discrimination and a violation of their civil and human rights.

“Inmates that are disruptive to other inmates or victimized by other inmates are temporarily segregated from the inmate population by being placed in housing areas known as Administrative Segregation Units (ASU) while employees investigate the level of threat to the prison or inmate,” reports the California Office of the Inspector General.

While the Office of the Inspector General found that, in 2009, the average length of stay in Ad Seg at CCWF is approximately two months, several women have written to Solitary Watch reporting that they’ve been held in isolation for over three months.

One female prisoner was placed in Ad Seg after “being seriously assaulted by three inmates.” Serving a life sentence, she is afraid of being hurt if released into general population. Like other women with safety concerns, the lady raised the fact that there are no Protective Housing Units (PHUs) for women, as there are for men. The PHU for men is located at California State Prison, Corcoran, and unlike Ad Seg units, men in the PHU are able to (according to the LA Times) “rub elbows, play board games and devise elaborate legal strategies they hope can one day set them free.”

However, because women don’t have this option, they must either accept an indeterminate term in isolation or risk assault in the general population. The option of an indeterminate SHU term would limit a prisoners ability to earn “good time credits” and because of the absence of meaningful programming in SHUs (even for individuals there for their own protection) most of the inmates become distressed.

On  Saturday, January 26 2013, a rally in Chowchilla was organized to protest the living  conditions inside the prison.

Organizers are demanding that VSPW be closed altogether and that the state respond to crowding at CCWF by releasing prisoners through alternative custody programs and early parole for elderly people and grant compassionate release for terminally ill people and medical parole for permanently incapacitated prisoners.

Want to learn more?


Theatre of the Oppressed: Opening the Box

Sarah Shourd

Sarah Shourd is a writer and grassroots organizer with the human rights organization United4Iran. She is currently living in Oakland, CA, has a blog on Huffington Post and has written for The New York Times,, Newsweek’s Daily Beast and more.

In 2009 Sarah was captured by Iranian forces while hiking behind a tourist site in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. Sarah, her fiance Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal were then thrown into Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison and held in incommunicado detention without legal representation or trial. Sarah was held in solitary confinement for 410 days before being released by President Ahmadinejad on “compassionate grounds” in Sept. 2010, a move which was in fact designed to ease international pressure against the Iranian government.

Sarah Shourd has joined Solitary Watch as a contributing editor and director of an innovative theater project based on the experiences of people in solitary confinement in the United States. Sarah, who spent more than a year in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison after being detained while hiking in Iraq near the border, has been an advocate for American prisoners in solitary since her release. At Solitary Watch, she will create and present a play titled Opening the Box. In her words:

For this project I will draw from my own experience as an author, a journalist and the 410 days I spent in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian government from 2009-2010. My goal is to portray real stories with truthfulness, dignity and complexity and also to make the experience of watching this play as visceral as possible.

I want the audience to breathe along with a young man having a panic attack after being denied a visit with his mother, to crawl inside the skin of an immigrant detainee terrified of being deported and to travel with a lifer on a magic carpet of memory—only to be pulled back into the stark, implacable reality of the hole. By hearing these stories, my hope is that the audience will be able to relate to the men and women enduring this torture in our prisons, to their pain but also to their resistance to the dehumanizing forces around them, their incredible resilience…and their refusal to be institutionalized.

Once the play is written we’ll move to stage production—enlisting well-known actors and survivors to perform in cities across the country. Our strategy is not just to perform the play—in each city we visit we will meet with local politicians, prison officials, activists, survivors and their families. Everywhere we go, we will provide our audience with ways to stay involved, act on what they’ve seen and contribute to nation-wide efforts to end this practice in our prisons for good.

Sarah will begin by corresponding with people on the inside, gathering the stories of their lives and their experiences in solitary confinement and using these stories to create the script. To support this initial phase of the project, she has launched a Crowdrise fundraising campaign, which features the following video:


Women in Prison Honored at One Billion Rising Pittsburgh Respond

Life Size Solitary Cell at One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising Pittsburgh honored 5 women who are currently incarcerated on February 14, 2013 for standing up to abuse. Below you can read their responses to letters, articles and pictures of our event.

Tanika Dickson was sentenced 15 years to life in New York for defending herself from a man who repeatedly threatened her racially  and physically. You can see her tell her story in the movie The Mothers of Bedford. In two years Tanika will be eligible for parole. You can find more information about Tanika on her lawyer’s page

Tanika writes:

I hope that you and your continuous war against injustice is blessed with favor, indefinitely. I apologize for taking forever to write…it gets like that…get tired~depressed; especially as of late. Being moved to this dreadful place~6 hours from home~nothing to do but think and feel; I am real sad. However, I shall bounce back!

I don’t think I’ve written you since those photos from V-Day?! Thank you for making my endeavor for freedom apart of your battle. I was a bit intimated by your work on my behalf – so soon, so major, so real; it’s scary, yet I am so ready to go home. It may feel like an oxymoron, yet I feel like my time is just beginning….word.

I read a little blurb in the Glamour magazine. It mentioned One Billion Rising in relation to Eve Ensler. She did ‘What I want my works to do to you” and there was a mention of V-Day. Anyhow, I just wanted to show you some love and let you know I appreciate you!

Many Many thanks! Take Care and Stay in Touch… Always Real, Tanika

Write Tanika at: Tanika Dickson #OOg1158 Albion Correctional Facility 3595 State School Road. Albion, New York 14411

The New Jersey 4 – Patreese Johnson

Patreese Johnson of the New Jersey 4
Patreese Johnson of the New Jersey 4

On August 18, 2006, seven young Black lesbians traveled to New York City from their homes in Newark for a regular night out. When walking down the street, a man sexually propositioned one of the women, After refusing to take no for an answer, he assaulted them. The women tried to defend themselves, and a fight broke out. The women received between 3.5 and 11 years in prison. Patreese Johnson, who received the longest sentence, scheduled to be released later this year.

Patreese writes:

“Thank you for sending me the Articles and pictures of the event. Which I think was AWESOME!

….Now I’m doing this spring semester. I’m glad it’s only one class because it’s a lot of work. On top of that this facility is suppose to be closing and I’ll be moved back to Taconic. Dam! I feel like I’m going backwards (101) I say that because I have been to every women’s facility in the state of N.Y. during these last 6 years. I’ll be going home in 4 months (August 13, 13) Yeah, it’s almost over for me. Believe you me, I’m ready.

What you have done out there in PA was AWESOME. If everything works out for me when I come home, I would hope to attend your next event. I really appreciate what your doing out there and I appreciate your support and writing me. God Bless your heart.

Stay Safe.

Love is Love, Patreese

Write Patreese at: Patreese Johnson #07g0635 Beacon Correctional Facility P.O. Box 780 Beacon, New York 12508-0780 (Until August 13th! Her parole date.)

Stand Your Ground Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Marissa is the victim here. Her husband beat her while she was pregnant. After yet another beating, Alexander fired a warning shot which traveled through a wall and into the ceiling. That shot saved her life. Prosecutor Angela Corey did not take into account that Marissa Alexander: Had a court injunction against her crazed husband,Had Given Birth 9 Days Earlier,Was trained to use a weapon and earned a concealed weapons permit.

Marissa writes:

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Wow those pictures were awesome. The event looked amazing to see all those beautiful women supporting other women! Truly made me proud! The super amazing thing was that people in 200 countries participated?!? WOW! Absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for taking time to share with me.

Charmaine’s story really touched me, how and why is that even allowed in this country, boggles my mind. I can’t wait to get out and rally and speak on behalf of women like her. I pray all the time that God makes a way for me to help his precious daughters out of situations. I know he will. I know my purpose!!

….Again thank you for the pictures. I shared them with the other women here, they were just as dumbfounded as I was about Charmaine, but they were inspired!Thank you from my whole heart!!  Marissa

Violence Against (Trans)Women Today by CeCe McDonald

Ce Ce McDonald

A major problem in the entire world is violence against all women, which also includes trans women. Throughout time, women have been subjected to the cruel “iron fist” of the male species’ ever-inflicting egos. The violence that has been upheld for centuries have affected us all, whether it be a tyrannical leader’s harsh rule over a nation or domestic rule inside the household. Women have a higher rate of experiencing violence in all its forms–physical, verbal, and/or sexual. In most cases we are the victims of murder, and in the act of defending ourselves we are subjected to time, even life in prison. How can society say that it detest and challenge violence against women, when there is very little, if any, real help for us, and the help we give ourselves result in punishment?

Street violence and trans women go hand in hand, and I’m sure that if asked any trans woman can agree that most of her conflicts occurred outside of her dwelling. For me, all of the incidents that I’ve experienced were outside of the home. I, and most trans women, have to deal with violence more often and at a higher rate than any cissexual person, so every day is a harder struggle, and the everyday things that a cissexual person can do with ease are a constant risk, even something as simple as taking public transportation. Street violence has affected me drastically, and I think–no, I know–that if I never learned to assert myself that I would’ve never gained the courage to defend myself against those who have no respect or gratitude towards others in the world, I would have met my demise years ago.

Currently, I am in a men’s state prison for the death of someone I accidentally stabbed in the act of defending myself. It all started around 12 am on June 4th, 2011 whne a group of racist drunks began to verbally bash my friends and I on our way to a local 24-hour grocery store. After being called everything from faggots to niggers, tempers escalated and I was caught in between the madness. A woman from the other group decided to throw her alcoholic cocktail in my face, and to add insult to injury, she smashed her glass cup in my face which lacerated my cheek and was deep enough to cut a saliva gland which caused painful complications later on after getting 12 stitches. When the police arrived it wasn’t hard to for them to assume who the aggressors were–surely, for them, it had to have been the group of black kids who started all this drama. At least that was the feeling I was receiving by the way they were treating me and my friends. And instead of taking me directly to the ambulance, they made me sit in the back of a squad car in handcuffs while bleeding badly and in very bad pain.

When I was finally transported to the ambulance, I was immediately bombarded with questions, even before I could get the medical attention I needed. And when I got to the hospital it didn’t go any better. I was told to take off all my clothes, after that I was shackled to a hospital bed, and poorly examined hence the large deformity that was on my left cheek from a saliva gland being cut. From there I say in an interrogation room for over 5+ hours. And it all went downhill from there. I can say that I’m so blessed to have such wonderful, caring, loving friends, family, and supporters that helped me through this injustice.

But it does go to show that there is nothing really in place for women to protect themselves–ourselves. We need to unite to make a voice for all those who have become a victim of violence. I want to shout-out all the organizations and programs that are doing just that. To all those who showed up to the 1 Billion Rising event in Pittsburgh on Valentines Day I LOVE YOU ALL! I also want to shout out all the victims of violence that were honored at the event: Patreese Johnson, Charmaine Pfender, Marissa Alexander, and Tanika Dickson. I LOVE YOU ALL!  We are all victims of violence and the injustices and oppression of a faulty legal system and the PIC. And in memoriam of all our fallen sisters, this is for you! Our flames of resilience and tenacity burn bright in the efforts of a revolution for women. We will not give up until there are the necessary changes in this world for better protection and equality. And it is up to us to show that we are concerned and that none of our struggles will go in vain.

I cannot reiterate enough to people how they should get involved. GET INVOLVED! Organizations like 1 Billion Rising need our help, or get involved in local organizations and program. I pray that no other woman should have to deal with violence on any level, and I know that we can make a change.

Thank you all for taking time to hear (or should I say read) my concerns for our women in the world. I LOVE YOU ALL! Please stay strong, live well, and fight hard!  xoxo CeCe

Write Ce Ce at: CeCe Chrishaun McDonald #238072 Minnesota Correctional Facility- St. Cloud 2305 Minnesota Boulevard S.E. St. Cloud, MN 56304

Charmaine Pfender

Charmaine at SCI-Cambridge Springs

Charmaine Pfender has been incarcerated since she was 19 for defending her self from a man who tried to rape her.  Donna Hill (pictured on right), Charmaine’s mom spoke at our rally in February. Inspired by One Billion Rising, The Women in Prison Defense Committee was born. Our purpose is to shine a light on the specific issues of women in prison as well as the underlying causes of gender-based violence and oppression which contribute to their imprisonment.

Our current campaign seeks to free two women serving life without parole in Pennsylvania, Avis Lee and Charmaine Pfender. These women pose no threat to society and have already unjustly served over 29 years each.

Donna Hill, Charmaine’s mom, speaking at One Billion Rising.

Join the Women in Prison Defense Committee In our first public event hosted by New Voices Pittsburgh!
Tuesday June 11th  7 – 9pm New Voice Pittsburgh OfficeThe Beatty Building | 5907 Penn Avenue, Suite 340
Ring buzzer and you will be buzzed up to 3rd floor. Light refreshments will be provided.

On June 11th, we will write letters to the Parole Board in Harrisburg and the Governor asking that Avis Lee be granted a public hearing which is the next step in the Commutation Process. For more information about Avis Lee please check out her info page.

This will also be a chance for you to learn about our new group and what we have been working on!


Letters for Avis Lee! June 11th!

art by Lydia Crumbley
art by Lydia Crumbley

Join the Women in Prison Defense Committee In our first public event hosted by New Voices Pittsburgh!

Tuesday June 11th

7 – 9pm New Voice Pittsburgh Office
The Beatty Building | 5907 Penn Avenue, Suite 340

Ring buzzer and you will be buzzed up to 3rd floor. Light refreshments will be provided.

On June 11th, we will write letters to the Parole Board in Harrisburg and the Governor asking that Avis Lee be granted a public hearing which is the next step in the Commutation Process. For more information about Avis Lee please check out her info page.

This will also be a chance for you to learn about our new group and what we have been working on!