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Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Amie’s Story

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Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Documentary of Former Inmate Exposes Shocking Human Rights Violations Inside Women’s Prisons

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) released the second episode in its exclusive documentary series, Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons. The series documents the ugly fallout of policies that allow male inmates—including convicted sex offenders—to declare themselves “women” and be housed with females. The second episode in the series features Amie Ichikawa, a former inmate who now serves as an ambassador at Independent Women’s Forum.

Ichikawa was incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), where she served five years. After her release from prison, Ichikawa co-founded a nonprofit organization, Woman II Woman, where she keeps in contact with hundreds of female inmates to provide them support. In 2021, after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 132—legislation that opened the door for male prisoners to transfer into women’s prisons—Ichikawa began receiving letters, emails, and phone calls from incarcerated women being harmed by this policy.

As a former inmate who was also incarcerated with convicted men who identified as women, Ichikawa feels obligated to be a voice for desperate women who are being silenced behind bars. She began sounding the alarms about what was happening as a result of Newsom’s policy, but was met with the cold-shoulder by organizations that traditionally serve as advocates for female inmates. 

“There was so much despair and hopelessness, and it was really intense. I reached out to other organizations, the larger organizations that would characteristically help women, and the pushback I got was very surprising,” Ichikawa says in the documentary. “No one wanted to talk about it. And the people who did want to talk about it told me I needed to get educated and learn the language. Someone actually told me that I needed to be careful, and I didn’t care then because it didn’t feel political, it felt like a human rights issue, and I still don’t care because it is a human rights issue.”

IWF’s Storytelling Director and co-producer of the series, Kelsey Bolar, said, “Amie Ichikawa began fighting for female inmates when no one else would. IWF is honored to now stand alongside her in this fight for dignity and justice for incarcerated women. As her story makes clear, there is nothing safe, compassionate, or humane about forcing women to live alongside violent, predatory men.”

IWF’s Storytelling Manager and co-producer of the series, Andrea Mew, added, “Women behind bars trust Amie with their lives – and that’s because she’s genuinely one of very few invested in this fight day in and day out to protect their rights. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for biological truth rather than simply take the path of least resistance. Female inmates bearing the burden of ‘inclusive’ policies deserve a better chance at rehabilitation – and Amie’s tireless advocacy truly demonstrates the urgency of this situation in California and beyond.”

Amie Ichikawa and Kelsey Bolar recently joined The Megyn Kelly Show to discuss the Cruel & Unusual Punishment series and the dangers of integrating men into women’s prisons. As an IWF ambassador and former inmate, Ichikawa will continue to fight for the rights of incarcerated women. 

Watch Amie Ichikawa’s story HERE.

Read Amie Ichikawa’s New York Post exclusive op-ed featuring Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons, HERE.

BACKGROUND:

As more states allow men who identify as women into women’s prisons, few are aware of the harmful fallout. Women with histories of trauma and domestic abuse are forced to share their most private and intimate spaces with intact males—many of whom are violent, sexual predators serving time for heinous crimes.

Allowing male offenders to reside in women’s prisons is dangerous and unfair. Put simply, it’s cruel and unusual punishment. These stories stand as a testament to why biological sex matters, especially in institutional settings. Incarcerated women need and deserve female-only spaces. Anything less is a violation of their most basic human rights.

The eradication of single-sex prisons is harming female inmates.

In this documentary mini series, IWF brings voices to light who detail the untold, gruesome story about what’s been happening to female inmates behind closed doors. As more and more prison systems allow males to declare themselves “women” and opt to be housed in facilities meant for females, the voices of those most affected deserve to be heard. 

Watch the Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons trailer HERE. Each episode of this ongoing short documentary series produced by IWF, varying from 5 to 10 minutes in length, will be released individually over the coming weeks, with episodes available to the public for free on YouTube.

Direct media inquiries and booking requests to [email protected]

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www.iwf.org 
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.

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