Friday, August 8, 2014

Central California Women's Facility

Patty learned that tourists don't usually stop to photograph prisons in central California on her way to the 45th Anniversary remembrances in Los Angeles. In case you have not already figured it out, Patty doesn't really live in Ballarat: rather, she lives in Northern California about six hours from Chatsworth. On previous trips she has been curious about the women's prison at Chowchilla: aka the Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) where Susan Atkins passed away about five years ago.  This time she decided to drop in, check out the gift shop, maybe have a cup of coffee with the warden. You know, normal tourist stuff.

CCWF is across from the the men's facility (aka Valley State Prison or VSP) on Avenue 24, just east of downtown Chowchilla. Initially, Patty confused the two. The guard at VSP explained that it was part of the women's prison until about two years ago. She was also informed that without permission from the warden, she was trespassing in the parolee pickup lot and would have to leave. It is legal however, to photograph the prisons from the county road he added, though anyone doing so would likely attract a lot of attention. Boy, he wasn't kidding! After taking her photographs, Patty noticed a state vehicle tail her all the way back to the freeway presumably to ensure that she didn't pick anybody up from the surrounding orchards and vineyards. Boy, is she going to give them a bad review on Yelp!

Anywhoo, here are some pics she took:

As "Sexy Sadie" from the White Album played in her car, Patty thought about Susan's passing there, how James Whitehouse worked so hard to get a compassionate release for her in her last days. Besides the obvious fact that she took a life, that she had no compassion for a woman and her eight month old fetus forty five years ago, Patty finds James' actions odd because at CCWF, Susan received state of the art care for her terminal condition including what were probably really fucking good drugs. Isn't that compassionate enough? Maybe, some would argue, TOO compassionate. Patty remains ambivalent.

What do you think?