Community Health, Youth Voices
About twenty miles south of Merced sits the Central California Women’s Facility, which carries the dubious distinction of being the largest female-only prison in the world. The facility illustrates the slew of problems plaguing the state’s penal system. Reports show overcrowding and neglect of health care needs, especially treatment for mental illness and addiction – which for women often relate to past traumas and became factors in their confinement. A health fair meant to boost morale and provide health care resources to the women revealed that many women’s primary concerns were focused on their families on the outside. This made youth reporter Claudia Gonzales reflect on her own time behind bars. “I shared that same sense of humility, having spent the day listening to the stories of women whose narratives sounded so much like my own. As the fair was wrapping up an elderly prisoner approached. ‘I am so happy to see you here. It makes me feel like somebody cares about us.’… I could be where she is now had I not been given a second chance.” The story is on We’Ced.