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Chowchilla Women's Prison Investigation Finds "Systemic Abuse”—Victims of Sexual Abuse Deserve Assistance

Chowchilla Women's Prison Investigation Finds "Systemic Abuse”—Victims of Sexual Abuse Deserve Assistance


The Shield Justice Team urges victims that suffered sexual abuse while incarcerated at Chowchilla Women's Prison to get an opportunity for support.

The wardens at California’s two major women’s prisons have retired amid allegations of pervasive problems at both institutions, including sexual abuse of female inmates at one prison and suicides at the other.

U.S. News reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation “fired at least six male correctional officers for sexually abusing women in their custody between 2014 and 2018.”

But, according to inmate advocates, the problem of sexual abuse by [prison] staff is more rampant than the records show because few officers get reported or investigated.

A recent incident involved Correctional Officer Israel Trevino, whom an inmate accused of groping her buttocks after putting her in wrist restraints.

On another occasion, Trevino had allegedly tried to pull up a woman’s shirt and put his hand down her pants.

According to the inmate, “Trevino squeezed her buttocks over her clothing while escorting her [to the shower] and tried to get her to expose her breasts and vagina.”

Trevino, who had worked at the prison for a decade, was subsequently fired in 2018 for sexual misconduct.

The list of abusive acts cited by KQED includes:

  • Sexually harassing comments
  • Groping and fondling
  • Sexual assault, including oral sex and rape

Correctional Officers are prohibited by law from having any sexual contact with inmates, who cannot legally consent to relations.

But Amika Mota, who “spent most of a nine-year prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla,” said female inmates have little choice in how to respond to the harassment.

Mota “never reported any harassment,” because she feared retaliation.

Mota revealed that “it was just this survival technique to play along.” 

After Mota was released in 2015, she “joined the San Francisco Bay Area-based Young Women’s Freedom Center” and is “now part of a new movement called Me Too Behind Bars, working to expose the sexual abuse of people in prison and jail.” 

The Shield Justice Team believes that victims that suffered sexual abuse while incarcerated at Chowchilla Women's Prison should receive support for losses.

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