[Pnews] Judge approves expanding class action suit against solitary confinement to include prisoners transferred out of Pelican Bay
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Feb 14 17:37:26 EST 2015
Solitary Confinement Suit Will Be Amended
By KATHERINE PROCTOR*
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge tentatively granted a motion
by the Center for Constitutional Rights to file a supplementary
complaint to its class action on behalf of hundreds of prisoners in
prolonged solitary confinement at California's Pelican Bay prison.
The May 2012 lawsuit claims that prolonged solitary confinement in
state prisons Security Housing Units violates Eighth Amendment
prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the prisons'
lack of meaningful review for such placement violates Fifth Amendment
guarantees of due process.
The Center for Constitutional Rights defined prolonged solitary
confinement as lasting more than 10 years.
CCR president Jules Lobel said in the Thursday hearing that 240
Pelican Bay prisoners fall into this category.
Lobel asked U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken for permission to
amend the complaint to add a class of prisoners recently transferred
under the state's Step Down Program from solitary confinement at Pelican
Bay to solitary confinement at the state prison at Tehachapi.
Adriano Hrvatin, of the state's justice department, represented
the prison. He argued that the CCR's proposed class definition did not
meet requirements of commonality and typicality, since "inmates are
going to fall in and out of the class with the passage of time."
Lobel responded that though prolonged solitary confinement is not
always a permanent state, it "causes lasting, permanent damage to the
person," and there must be a "procedural mechanism" to make prisoners'
claims heard, even if they are transferred or released.
He also argued that the class representatives, once designated,
should be allowed to continue to represent the class even if they cease
to be one of the class's members.
Wilken responded that attorneys in similar past situations have
simply found new class representatives.
Wilken proposed that the trial be bifurcated - a trial in December
to determine whether the Pelican Bay prisoners' confinement was cruel
and unusual, and if it was found to be so, the CCR would then file the
The CCR intends to file for summary judgment on July 2.
Pelican Bay is a "supermax" prison in Crescent City.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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