Charisse Shumate: Fighting For Our Lives Cover

This is a story of a woman who stood up against the California Department of Corrections.

This 37-minute video was created in collaboration with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and focuses on the life of Charisse Shumate and women in California state prisons. It includes amazing prison interviews, as well as materials from State Senate hearings on conditions for women in the California State Prison System and historical video footage of Charisse and her family.

Charisse was a life term prisoner incarcerated for 16 years at the Central California Women’s Facility. She died of complications from sickle cell anemia, cancer, and hepatitis C. Charisse championed the cause of battered women when very few were rallying to their support. She was imprisoned for defending herself against an abusive partner. Charisse stepped forward to be the lead plaintiff and prisoner spokesperson in the class action lawsuit challenging the medical neglect and abuse of women prisoners (aptly named Shumate v. Wilson).

It was thanks to Charisse that many activists and advocates initially became involved in defending the right of women prisoners to medical care and adequate treatment. Now, through this video, she will inspire others to fight for social justice.


Produced by Claude Marks, Freedom Archives.
Directed by Claude Marks and Eve Goldberg.
Written and edited by Eve Goldberg.

This film was made possible in part by funding from the Women’s Foundation of California, the Vanguard Public Foundation, LEF Foundation, and the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media.


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