Acting Up for Prisoners, video
by Mic Sweney & Eric Slade ,
1992, 27 mins.

Frontera, the California Institution for Women, is the home for all women prisoners in California known to have HIV. However, Frontera is not a medical facility designed to care for these women--it is a prison with an isolated wing designed to segregate them. Acting Up for Prisoners follows ACT-UP's highly successful campaign to bring adequate health care and human rights to women prisoners with HIV. Featuring footage from powerful ACT-UP demonstrations, compiled media coverage and interviews with activists, including former Frontera inmate Mary Lucey.

Video Stills from "Acting Up for Prisoners" (below)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 29, 1992

NEW ACTIVIST DOCUMENTRAY, ACTING UP FOR PRISONERS PREMIERES
FRIDAY, MAY 8 AT THE EYE GALLERY IN SAN FRANCISCO.

Reception 7 – 8:00 pm
Screening 8:00 pm

Eye Gallery, 1151 Mission Street, between 7th and 8th St,
415-431-6911 [USE NUMBER ABOVE FOR INFO CALLS]
FREE PARKING across the street

ACTING UP FOR PRSONERS follows ACT UP's highly successful, confrontational campaign to bring adequate health care and human rights to women prisoners with HIV at the California Institution for Women (Frontera) near Chino.

This 27 minute video features footage from powerful ACT UP demonstrations, compiled media coverage and interviews with activists, including former Frontera inmate Mary Lucey.

ACTING UP FOR PRISONERS shows the well planned strategy employed by statewide activists as they win victories in their battle with prison bureaucrats. While the challenge seems insurmountable at times, through the course of the tape, the group scores major victories for the women of Frontera.

Frontera is the home for all women prisoners in California known to have HIV. But it's not a medical facility designed to care for these women—it’s a prison with an isolated wing designed to segregate them.

Frontera has no licensed infirmary, no HIV prevention program, and no facilities for testing and monitoring their health. One woman having an asthma attack was told she was fine and sent back to her cell where she suffocated. Another woman with AIDS lay dead I her cell for three days before guards would finally move her body.

The program opens with a dramatic scene of LA activist Jan Speller pointedly confronting prison health director Dr. Nadim Khourry. Speller demands that Khourry "do your job or get out of the way so someone who will do the job can sit in that chair."

Through interviews with activists we hear the chronological story of ACT UP’s work of bringing adequate health care to the women of Frontera. We hear of the activists work with inmates and attempted interaction with prison officials, a demonstration at Frontera prison, and finally a statewide coordinated civil disobedience at the California Department of Corrections.

In this surprise action, dozens of demonstrators invade the office of Dr. Khourry, read a list of demands and then aggressively question him. Officials unsuccessfully try to persuade the protesters to leave, deflecting all questions and charges. In the midst of the conflict state police force the demonstrators out and arrest 17 people.

Since the May action much progress has been made at the prison, while other major challenges remain. We hear activists talk of plans for the future and of the satisfaction they feel at seeing some of their work pay off.

Visit an interactive version of "Acting up for Prisoners"
designed for Qcc by artist/videographer Mic Sweney.

California Institute for Women at Frontera California Department of Corrections "We have resistance!" Rebecca Jurado, ACLU attorney.
Headlines ACT UP Demands Peaceful sit-in brings arrests. Jan Speller, ACT UP Los Angeles.
World AIDS Day, 1990 "I want to know when you will respond to our demands!" "Prisoners are dying! We care, why don't you care?" Mary Lucy, former inmate/ACT UP Los Angeles.
"Health Care is a right!" "Why don't prisoners have access to condoms?" Activists taken away in police paddy wagons. Crystal Mason, ACT UP/SF; SF AIDS Foundation.