At largest women's prison, a rare chance to see mom

CHOWCHILLA — Sarah Johnston's granddaughter, 3-year-old Sincere, hardly knows her mother. She sees her once a year.

"She don't know her," said Johnston as her granddaughter squirmed on her lap. "She thinks I'm mom."

That's because Sincere's mother is serving time, for prostitution and stabbing someone, at the nation's largest women's prison, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla.

"She was incarcerated when she had her daughter," said Johnston of her daughter-in-law.

Johnston and her granddaughter were just one of the roughly 300 children and family members who were brought in from across the state in 25 buses on a Friday morning in June to visit their relatives here.

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