August 17, 2018

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Governor, State of California
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown,

The American Conservative Union Foundation works to educate Americans on a number of important issues, including the need for criminal justice reform. When it comes to improving the justice system, public safety must always come first. Within the context of criminal justice reform, we work to hold people and government agencies accountable, ensure fiscal responsibility, and maintain principles of limited government. ACUF also endeavors to advance human dignity, as we believe every life has value and meaning.

Under your leadership California has taken good first steps on providing both men and women incarcerated with what they need on a regular basis. As you consider how to continue to improve the state’s criminal justice system, we urge you to focus on the plight of incarcerated women.

Nationally, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population and face difficult challenges when incarcerated. Women who are incarcerated often come in with very high rates of past traumatic experiences, with 86% of women in jails and prisons having reported being survivors of past sexual violence. In many cases women attempt, or successfully commit suicide because they refuse to become another victim.

With an epidemic of sexual assault and rape of women in prison, the government has a duty to protect those it holds behind bars. The legislation that will be laid before you will prohibit access by male prison guards, whenever possible to areas where women may be in a state of undress is necessary to implement. If there is a need to observe female inmates undressed, female guards should do so whenever possible.

The American Conservative Union Foundation recognizes that for some, our recommendations represent a paradigm shift. However, as you consider this legislation, the issue and related issues to ensure that every woman in California’s prisons system is accorded basic human dignity. Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact David Safavian ([email protected]) or Kaitlin Owens ([email protected]) at the American Conservative Union Foundation (202-347-9388).

Respectfully,

David H. Safavian, Esq.
Deputy Director
Center for Criminal Justice Reform