[Pnews] Two Years After Historic Settlement Ending Indefinite Solitary Confinement in CA, Ongoing Violations

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 21 10:28:11 EST 2017


commondreams.org 
<https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2017/11/20/two-years-after-historic-settlement-ending-indefinite-solitary-confinement-ca> 



  Two Years After Historic Settlement Ending Indefinite Solitary
  Confinement in CA, CCR Details Ongoing Violations, Releases Report
  Showing Lasting Consequences of SHU Post-Release

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) - Monday, November 20, 2017
------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEW YORK and PALO ALTO - Two years after the historic settlement of 
/Ashker v. Governor of California/ 
<http://RethinkMedia.pr-optout.com/Tracking.aspx?Data=HHL%3D8.74%3C5-%3ELCE18-4286-GLCE17.6&RE=MC&RI=3718795&Preview=False&DistributionActionID=53993&Action=Follow+Link> 
marked the end of indefinite solitary confinement in California, the 
Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel filed a motion to extend 
the terms of the settlement by one year, noting that substantial reforms 
are still needed and the California Department of Corrections and 
Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues to violate the constitutional rights of 
/Ashker/ class members. Concurrently, the legal team and researchers 
from the Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab at Stanford University 
(Stanford Lab) released a report detailing the ongoing negative health 
consequences /Ashker /class members have suffered following their 
release from long-term solitary confinement into the general population, 
the first-ever in-depth report on the subject.

The /Ashker /litigation followed coordinated hunger strikes undertaken 
by thousands of prisoners statewide. The 2015 settlement resulted in 
nearly 1,600 prisoners being released into general population, but 
hundreds of class members were transferred to Level IV prisons, where 
conditions are similar to the SHU, with many spending the same or /more 
/time isolated in their cells than when they were in SHU. Today’s motion 
details how, two years later, California has failed to make the 
requisite reforms to bring their prisons into compliance with due 
process. It asks the court to maintain its supervision and order CDCR to 
remedy various violations.

Among the violations: the settlement created a new “Restricted Custody 
General Population” unit, intended to temporarily house class members 
who would face a threat to their safety in the general population, until 
they could be safely transferred out. The RCGP was to provide increased 
recreation and interaction, akin to a GP unit, but, instead, it has 
become what one CDCR official called a “purgatory” where prisoners are 
indefinitely isolated from their families, denied jobs and educational 
programs, and have no way to earn release. CDCR’s failure to properly 
administer the unit amounts to yet another constitutional violation. In 
addition, CDCR continues to use unreliable, fabricated, or improperly 
disclosed confidential information to send class members back to 
solitary and is still using old, improper gang validations to bar people 
from the opportunity to get parole. The men who were in SHU continue to 
suffer severe psychological harms and are not receiving the care they 
need to recover.

The Stanford Lab report released today, based on interviews at three 
maximum-security prisons, details severe and wide-ranging mental health 
consequences, further underscoring the need for CDCR reform.

“The torture of solitary confinement doesn’t end when the cell doors 
open,” said lead counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights 
*Jules Lobel*. “California’s continued violation of the Constitution and 
new evidence of the persistent impact of prolonged solitary confinement 
requires CDCR to make essential changes in their conduct and 
rehabilitative programs, and, more broadly, demonstrates the urgent need 
to end solitary confinement across the country.”

The severe mental health impact of solitary confinement has been 
thoroughly documented, but before now, little was known about how 
prisoners adjust after release to a GP unit. CCR approached the Stanford 
Lab—a multi-disciplinary collaboration among Stanford University’s 
School of Medicine, Law School, and the WSD Handa Center for Human 
Rights and International Justice—to investigate the open question of how 
and to what extent psychological harm caused in long-term, isolated 
imprisonment continues after transfer into general population.

*The *interviews revealed a range of continued, and potentially 
permanent, adverse consequences, including: mood deterioration and 
depression, intense anxiety, emotional numbing and dysregulation, 
cognitive impairments, modifications in perception of time, physical 
health ailments, distressful relational estrangement with family and/or 
friends, and diminished capacity for socialization.

According to the report, the emotional numbing and desensitization that 
commonly results from prolonged solitary continues to be a problem long 
after release, and significant alterations in cognition, perception, 
concentration, and memory not only persist, but worsen. Class members 
reported ongoing anxiety, paranoia, and hypervigilance. They emphasized 
the importance of jobs, mental health and psychological services, and 
other rehabilitative program opportunities to ease this transition, but 
expressed dismay about the inadequate options offered by the California 
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—in particular, they had 
reservations about programs run by correctional officers, and requested 
services and support from non-CDCR staff.

The report recommends an overhaul of occupational, educational, and 
social programs as well as mental health services for former SHU 
prisoners after their release. The Stanford Lab recommends that class 
members be offered mental health and psychological services in the form 
of independent psychiatric care and/or peer-facilitated support groups, 
echoing the feedback of class members, one saying, “It feels good to 
relate your experience to others. You can help someone else by 
recognizing patterns in your own life and preventing that for them.”

The Stanford Lab report is being sent to corrections and government 
officials around the country.

The prisoner representatives in the /Ashker /case released a statement 
<http://RethinkMedia.pr-optout.com/Tracking.aspx?Data=HHL%3D8.74%3C5-%3ELCE18-4286-GLCE17.6&RE=MC&RI=3718795&Preview=False&DistributionActionID=53992&Action=Follow+Link> 
last month, which underscores the directives of both the extension 
motion and the report. They wrote, “We must stand together, not only for 
ourselves, but for future generations of prisoners, so that they don’t 
have to go through the years of torture that we had to.”

For more information, visit CCR’s case page 
<http://RethinkMedia.pr-optout.com/Tracking.aspx?Data=HHL%3D8.74%3C5-%3ELCE18-4286-GLCE17.6&RE=MC&RI=3718795&Preview=False&DistributionActionID=53991&Action=Follow+Link>. 
Read the full report from Stanford Lab here 
<http://RethinkMedia.pr-optout.com/Tracking.aspx?Data=HHL%3D8.74%3C5-%3ELCE18-4286-GLCE17.6&RE=MC&RI=3718795&Preview=False&DistributionActionID=53990&Action=Follow+Link>.

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