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Health Care Not Death Care
Maker: ACT UP/LA; Critical Mass
Date Made: 1990
Place Made: United States: California, Los Angeles
Measurements: 87 cm x 66 cm; 34 1/4 in x 26 in
Main Subject: HIV/AIDS; Women; Prisons & Prisoners
Materials: Cardstock / paperboard (fiber product)
Health Care Not Death Care for Walker A Inmates Women With AIDS Behind Bars © 1990 CRITICAL MASS
Acquisition Number: 1992-041
Under copyright; used by CSPG for educational and research purposes only. Distribution or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners.
In 1990, the overcrowded California Institution for Women, Frontera, was the country's second largest women's prison. All women in the state's prison system known to have HIV or an AIDS diagnosis were segregated inside, in the Walker A Unit. The conditions and treatment for incarcerated women with HIV/AIDS were deplorable—there was no infectious disease doctor and Frontera had no licensed infirmary. Women died in their cells without medical attention. The prison staff did not want to come in contact with those that were infected. Deaths were sometimes discovered when the food trays piled up. This poster was first used in a loud and boisterous ACT UP/LA demonstration held outside the Frontera prison on November 30, 1990. Prisoners inside were placed on lockdown but could hear AIDS activists chanting, "sisters on the inside, sisters on the outside, ACT UP is watching, you won't die." When a series of protests moved to the California Department of Corrections main offices in Sacramento, ACT UP took over the offices of the prison system's Chief Medical Officer to demand an end to inhumane conditions for incarcerated people with AIDS. Gradually several of ACT UP/LA's demands were implemented. An infectious disease doctor was assigned to Walker A. One woman, Judy Cagle, became the first inmate in the history of the CDC to be granted a compassionate release. The segregation policy was changed and the women with AIDS were moved out and into a medical facility. These actions by ACT UP/LA and other California ACT UP chapters and in particular, the ACT UP/LA's Womens' Caucus, inspired ACT UP chapters in other states to take action and advocate better treatment for all prisoners living with AIDS.