Doctors with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals. Critics say officials targeted women deemed likely to return to prison.
For some families, seeing an image of their incarcerated relative for the first time in years has sparked renewed hope and revived dormant family connections. For others, the photographs are a shocking reminder of the length of time some inmates have been held in isolation.
The California State Auditor blasted federal and state oversight of sterilization surgeries for female prison inmates, finding numerous illegal surgeries and violations of the state’s informed consent law.
Considered a model facility, the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall still places youth in 23-hour isolation, sometimes for days on end. But amid a national debate over juvenile solitary confinement, Santa Cruz could serve as a guide for reform.
Our documentary with The Young Turks investigates why more than 100 women were sterilized in California state prisons from 2006 to 2010, even though elective sterilizations have been restricted in state prisons since 1994.
Michael Montgomery of The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED, who has covered the California prison system for years, explains why the fundamental issues at the state’s toughest prisons have yet to be worked out.