[Pnews] Ongoing Isolation in CA Prisons Not Governed by Settlement, Judge Rules - Activism Needed to Remedy Solitary

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 30 11:16:10 EDT 2018


https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/ongoing-isolation-ca-prisons-not-governed-settlement-judge-rulesccrjustice.org 
<https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/ongoing-isolation-ca-prisons-not-governed-settlement-judge-rules> 



  Ongoing Isolation in CA Prisons Not Governed by Settlement, Judge Rules

Contact: press at ccrjustice.org - March 28, 2018


    Activism Needed to Remedy Solitary Conditions in Prisons, Civil
    Rights Attorneys Say

/
March 28, 2018, Oakland, CA –/ Today, a federal judge declined to order 
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to 
move prisoners previously held in Security Housing Units (SHU) into 
legitimate general population conditions. Under a landmark class action 
settlement 
<https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/landmark-agreement-ends-indeterminate-long-term-solitary> 
that was intended to effectively end indefinite solitary confinement in 
California prisons, nearly 1500 prisoners were released into the general 
prison population, many to Level IV prisons, which is the highest 
security level in general population. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that, 
because these facilities are so restrictive, transfer to highly 
restrictive conditions in Level IV prisons does not satisfy requirements 
under the settlement that the prisoners be moved to the general population.

“The court did not dispute the extent of the restriction and isolation 
in Level IV facilities, but did conclude that the matter is not governed 
by the settlement agreement,” said lead counsel with the Center for 
Constitutional Rights *Jules Lobel*. “Fortunately, there is a powerful 
coalition in California working to end solitary confinement and 
unconstitutional prison conditions. The court may have declined to 
intervene. Now the people must get the job done.”

Prisoners report 
<https://ccrjustice.org/home/blog/2018/02/26/back-court-solitary-confinement> 
that the conditions in Level IV prisons mirror those in the Security 
Housing Units (SHUs) from which they were released, with comparably 
restricted social interaction, outdoor time, programming, and contact 
with family and friends. Many prisoners transferred to Level IV 
facilities spend the same or even /more/ time isolated in their cells 
than they did in the SHU—often 22-24 hours per day. The men have also 
reported similar levels of anxiety, insomnia, and other psychological 
conditions. According to expert witness and former Secretary for the 
Washington State Department of Corrections Eldon Vail, many prisoners 
who were transferred out of the SHU into Level IV “general population” 
units receive the “lowest amount of out-of-cell time [Vail has] seen in 
[his] career as a corrections administrator and as a consultant/expert 
witness.”

CCR and co-counsel also have asked the court to extend the terms of the 
settlement agreement 
<https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/two-years-after-historic-settlement-ending-indefinite-solitary> 
by an additional year because substantial reforms are still needed and 
the CDCR continues to violate the constitutional rights of class 
members. The requested extension came concurrently with the release of 
the first-ever in-depth report <https://ccrjustice.org/solitary-report>, 
by researchers from the Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab at 
Stanford University, detailing the ongoing negative health consequences 
prisoners have suffered following their release from long-term solitary 
confinement. Argument on the extension request will be held in the summer.

For more information, visit CCR’s case page 
<https://ccrjustice.org/home/what-we-do/our-cases/ashker-v-brown>.

-- 
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