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Judy Greenspan: veteran activist looks to pass the torch on.

Judy Greenspan entered prisoners' rights activism through the AIDS activist movement. In 1987, while working as National Logistics Coordinator for the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights she met AIDS activists who were demanding a place in the march, which caused controversy because many gay activists didn't want to mention "AIDS." The PWAs wanted to lead the march in their wheelchairs, and Judy was there to support them.

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Judy then worked for the ACLU's National Prison Project where she succeeded in building a national AIDS in prison clearinghouse. Through Judy's efforts the project also became a hub of AIDS in prison activism. She worked to interest ACT UP chapters in prisoner rights, attending many demonstrations around the country. Judy worked to unify AIDS activism, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, and advocacy for prisoners.

In 1991, Judy moved to California, joining (the original) San Francisco ACT UP. She later founded the HIV/AIDS in Prison Project of Catholic Charities of the East Bay. In 1998, her project closed due to lack of funding. Undaunted, Judy organized the HIV/Hepatitis C in Prison (HIP) Committee within California Prison Focus, a statewide prisoners' rights organization.

Judy has continued her advocacy for prisoners with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other life-threatening illnesses. She believes that "Healthcare is a Right!" especially for prisoners. The courage, optimism, and strength of the prisoners has kept Judy on track. For example, Joann Walker, one of the first "out" HIV+ women prisoners, inspired the growth of a women prisoner support network in the Bay Area.

Judy's last visit to women prisoners (August 2005) ended with a phone call from her doctor informing her that she had breast cancer. Her diagnosis and her first year teaching elementary school have forced her to pull back from her prisoner advocacy. "It's time for others, especially young people, to step forward. The fight for health care for prisoners with life-threatening illnesses must continue," Judy said.

For more information contact the HIP Committee at (510) 665-1935 or on the web: www.prisons.org
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Author:Works, Rose
Publication:WORLD
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:344
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