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“Dear Momma: Men Burying Their Babies in a Women's Prison” By Tomiekia Johnson

Classic lines of a 1990's Tupac hit record, "Dear Momma," woven into the blk fabric of a tragic Mother's Day event -an unspeakable crime. Seemingly everyone I told shuttered and stammered, "What? What? What?" One woman bent over to grab the concrete top of the picnic-tables that edge the track on Facility D Yard, in the Central California Women's facility (CCWf). She was shaken to her soul. I had a similar response when I heard the news of a fetus (we later named "Baby Justice" to humanize), was dug from a shallow grave by the Investigative Services Unit (ISU) on Facility B Yard. What keeps me up at night is, it seems like the Division of Adult Institution's (DAI) Director, Connie Gipson, a black woman, likely a mother, queen of the slaves and California plantations, is asleep at the helm. I can understand our warden, Michael Pallares, who squeezes himself into cheap suits and alligator boots whimpering for relief, to abracadabra this away like he has so many times before when predator men committed heinous crimes against women, but a black woman just watching this treachery unfold is so auntie Tom-ish. This is arguably the biggest case of Gipson and Pallares' careers, the Super Bowl of investigations, and they have zero on the board. What happened to Baby Justice is right up there with the mass sterilizations the state is currently distributing settlement checks for to victim survivors, and the sterilization that continues with every testosterone shot that’s given to transmen here that are not being fully medically informed. It’s California eugenics.

After learning ISU reportedly dug Baby Justice's remains from the ground in front of the medical unit housing the elderly and sickly, I spoke to the Inmate Advisory Council (IAC), the ACLU of prison. I used to be a member before I was removed three separate times behind these predators conspiring to oust me. The IAC confirmed the account through ISU management and the mother of the baby (who will be referred to as TD) TD’s roommate -an eyewitness. The IAC, staff, and I gathered in a small group. One staff, confused about the commotion asked, "Are you talking about the BPH (Board of Parole Hearings) custody staff Rodriguez, who got walked off for raping all those women?" I didn't think my heart could sink any lower. "Is that the one who was having sex with over 22 inmates for over 10 years?" I asked. "Yes," one of my peers chimed in. "No, I'm talking about TD and Tremaine Carroll's fetus they dug up on B Yard." Another staff stopped in her tracks, poked her head out the door and squelched, "Did you say fetus?" My serious eyes peered through hers, "yes," I answered. Our incidental group began to begrudgingly discuss the catastrophe; tears settled in the corner of somber eyes. Differences of opinions respectfully flew across the quiet, bright, transparent computer lab where we started simultaneously prepping packages of college books to distribute to students. One IAC member, who was sympathetic towards TD made her points. Her colleague disagreed, and the exchange reminded me of another Tupac song, "Brenda's Got a Baby," only I transposed the names. "I hear Brenda's got a baby, but Brenda barely has a brain." Okay, TD does present as an aloof, straight faced, wrong and empty headed suspect, but like the rest of the song, "that's not our problem, that's up to Brenda’s family. Well let me tell you how it affects a whole community." Quietly weeping, my peer said, "my shoulders are so heavy over all this." I totally understood because collectively we all have socialized PTSD.

This new year, 2023, I vowed to myself before God, I would laser focus on my freedom. I would step past the rape that happened in the B Yard port-a-potty, steps away from where Baby Justice was found. I would forgive the staff that retaliated against me for standing up against being unconstitutionally housed with male convicts, and stripped of my greatest accomplishments and accolades. I want to put the fact I've been abused, stalked, harassed, provoked, and sabotaged by male inmates, including Tremaine Carroll and his girlfriend TD behind me. At a point I have to work harder to get out of hell on earth because that is the only real safe solution for me - to be free. This whole bizarre ordeal has held and put me back in life, like a child who was doing phenomenal in school, but the principal put them back a few grades into classes already leveled, and no room to grow.

When I reported Tremaine Carroll and TD were stalking me, to Chief of Inmate Appeals Howard Moseley, I was evicted from the second honor dorm I was housed in, and housed in a general population unit I will refer to as "Hades." Instead of the state punishing the abusers and moving them, I was placed in a state of regression and restarted at square one -where I was 11 years ago when I was first wrongly incarcerated. In Hades, I had to stop a woman from being bludgeoned with a brown plastic cup, leaking a pint of blood from her face, not knowing if her attacker was going to turn the cup on me next. I've been chest bumped and challenged to several fights, just because I want to live a structured, organized, civil life. Hades is not only anti-rehabilitation, but it is anti-rehabilitated people -let that sink in. The clemency and/or pardon, I was recommended for by Board of Parole Hearings -formally acknowledged -by Governor Newsom's office, is being placed in jeopardy daily. These men, and the staff members that are in bed with them, are stopping me from obtaining my dreams.

Perhaps a simple standard to best differentiate between man and woman is to see that God created women to biologically carry life in her womb. Men were not created with this capability. Period. I had this more spiritual conversation with one of my peers on a cold and skin chapping morning. She was incidentally walking from Protestant Chapel services, hands in pocket, struggling to stay warm. I was waiting in front of the visiting room on the walkway that snakes different pathways to the gymnasium and law library. A smile emerged when she recognized me, we embraced with a friendly hug. I didn't have long to talk, so I quickly asked her if she heard the reports about Baby Justice being dug up from her yard. Maybe it was wind chill, but the color fled her face  -- she became nearly translucent. She quietly related, "TD cut herself off from the branch, and once we are cut off, we are on our own." She paused for a second and said, "I heard the staff caught them (TD and Carroll) having sex a few times, and that's when they moved her out." I was slap myself flabbergasted, "She lived with Tremaine?" I asked rhetorically. She solemnly shook her head, "yes." The visiting staff busted up our conversation, she patted me on my shoulder, "see yah later TJ," and walked towards the storm clouds hovering over B Yard.

During my investigation, I organized a "get the word out" campaign from my overly exposing top bunk, as I rested against 40 year old bricks. My bed is my office. My instruments: a state issued tablet phone, pen, paper, and address book. I called multiple district attorneys, state offices, nonprofit organizations, media outlets, and law firms. I was asked by one law group to draft a formal letter to help them open a formal investigation, assign the case to their attorneys, and prepare themselves to make calls into the prison for answers. I had the letter immediately sent via email to high ranking officials at CDCr Headquarters, and organizations who couldn't wait for snail-mail. What I didn't expect was many reporters, journalists, editors, project directors, etc. sensed the yoke of slavery I've been burdened with by warden Pallares' irresponsibility, as indicated by their words of empathy, concern, apology, and assistance. Many of them asked me what was going on with my parole process. I shared some of the details of my stalled clemency, and they volunteered to help amplify a freedom campaign I was simultaneously organizing. God is good!

While working on the final draft of this essay, I arrived at work on a Thursday morning, when an IAC representative b-lined over. Slightly smirking, hand on hip, she sarcastically asked, "did you hear about what happened to your fearless leader?" Very quizzically I said, "no, tell me." Apparently she was present when the IAC Chair received a very important call from Pallares. He informed the Executive Body, he was stepping down. Ironically, I warned Pallares he would eventually be the fall guy for this shameful abuse of women once the shit hit the fan, as he is the lowest hanging fruit, and the politicians would blame him. That advice was on the house.

Presenting this tragedy about how men shouldn't be housed in women's prisons to even have the opportunity of fathering children, put me in the mind of a sinister Mother's Day. I wanted to write a letter in advocation for Baby Justice to TD so she can never forget what the intersection of rape culture, federal funding, sexual perversion, and promiscuity cultivates -a baby cemetery. Baby Justice didn't have a voice, so I lent mine in all its  personal trials and tribulations, pressing experiences, song and artistic expression as Mother's Day approaches. Letters are personal and almost always addresses its recipients by name; which is why I said their names. In honor of a life that never had the opportunity to live, I exhort more men to get candidly involved to put a check on predator male counterparts, accessing an understanding men may have of them that women do not.

Women keep fighting the good fight, everything breaks eventually. It's only a matter of time until men pushing women out of our spaces under the pitiful falsified guise of also being a woman, is legislated back to the bottomless pit. I never want to kill chivalry, it has a healthy role in relationships. That said, I will leave the army with one last Shakur sentiment, as women are beat down on this very destructive issue, and it will be nice for men to level up and protect us on this, so "will the real men stand up? I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up."

Update: CCWf Warden Pallares was removed from his post, January 17, 2023, shrouded by several sexual harassment allegations, accusations of allegedly raping Tremaine Carroll and TD during a private closed door meeting he had with the couple that was unmonitored, and the demise of Baby Justice. Also, CDCr Secretary Kathleen Allison was nudged into retirement. She tiptoed quietly out the backdoor she came in, two weeks prior to Pallares stepping down. Sex trafficking will NOT be tolerated in CCWf.

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