Sonoma County female inmate claims gender discrimination

A woman serving time in the Sonoma County Jail claimed in court papers filed Monday that she and other women prisoners are the victims of gender discrimination because they are no longer allowed to stay in the less-restrictive North County Detention Facility.

Charr Treadway, 42, said her constitutional right to equal protection is being violated by a shift in Sheriff's Office policy that confines all women to the higher-security main jail on Ventura Avenue in Santa Rosa.

Treadway said that while men at the North County facility on Ordinance Road enjoy dormitory living and face-to-face visitation, she is confined to a small cell for most of her days and must speak to her two young children through a thick, glass partition.

Treadway is asking a judge to enforce a previous court order requiring the sheriff to operate a minimum-security honor farm for women or release her from custody until the "invidious discrimination" is ended.

"It is impermissible that the women of the Main Adult Detention Center in general and the petitioner specifically are not afforded the benefits of equal protection of the laws," said a petition filed by her lawyer, Walter Risse. "The court must end the discrimination."

The north county operation was closed to women in 2010, in part as a cost-cutting measure. All women, regardless of risk classification, were moved into segregated modules at the main jail, which also houses medium- and maximum-security male prisoners.

The move was seen as a way to reduce staff time and help absorb about $20 million in cuts.

But because of physical limits at the main jail and a population that includes people with mental health disorders and rival gang members, activities for women are limited.

Sheriff's Capt. Randall Walker, who oversees the jail, said there were no immediate plans to send women to the north county facility.

He said women get more rehabilitative programming then men and get all the required state mandates on visitation and out-of-cell time.

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