We recently processed a new collection of materials related to Bay Area women’s’ prison organizing during the 1970s, the Santa Cruz Women’s Prison Project (SCWPP). Through photographs, newsletters, reports, correspondence, poetry chapbooks, and more, this collection documents SCWPP’s prison work at the California Institution for Women (CIW), where the organization launched an educational project that provided UC extension credit for classes such as creative writing, women’s health, and social action. The project marked the first time that college credit was granted to prisoners in the history of the institution.
Beyond their work at CIW, the SCWPP engaged in numerous forms of mobilizing against prisons and building support for the prisoner movement. In 1977, the group helped organize a women’s prison conference, bringing together over 120 formerly incarcerated women and women of diverse backgrounds from across the western United States.