California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Reforms, Internal Documents Show

How influential were the three hunger strikes held by California prisoners in spurring the sweeping changes to solitary confinement policies that were announced yesterday? The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has repeatedly stated that they were already planning to reform long-term solitary confinement before the hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. But internal documents obtained […]

Landmark Settlement Reached: Solitary Confinement to Be Dramatically Reduced in California Prisons

California prison officials have agreed to limit the practice of long-term solitary confinement, four years after the first hunger strike began in protest of the practice. Under a historic agreement reached in the Ashker v. Brown suit between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of individuals in […]

After Hunger Strikes, Solitary Confinement Reforms Come to California’s Prisons——and Leave Thousands Behind

Four years ago today, approximately 6,600 people in California prisons launched a hunger strike in protest of long-term solitary confinement. The protest would be the first of three large-scale actions by state prisoners to bring awareness to the issue of long-term solitary confinement. At the epicenter was Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, home of […]

Will Revamped Prison Regulations Reduce Solitary Confinement in California?

California prison officials have announced a number of changes to state regulations pertaining to the use of solitary confinement and other forms of extreme isolation. The reforms come in the run-up to the fourth year anniversary of the first of three large-scale hunger strikes launched by individuals in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHU) in protest […]

Seven Days in Solitary [6/7/15]

The following roundup features noteworthy news, reports and opinions on solitary confinement from the past week that have not been covered in other Solitary Watch posts. • A New Jersey bill hopes to reduce the limits on solitary confinement to no more than two days in a row for 15-year-olds, no more than three for those […]

Voices from Solitary: The Safari from Pelikkkan Bay

Kijana Tashiri Askari has been in solitary confinement since 1994 after he was “validated” as a member of the Black Guerrilla Family. Until recently in California’s prisons, people who were validated as gang members were sentenced to indeterminate stays in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), where they spent nearly 24 hours in windowless cells. In […]

UN Torture Investigator Barred from Visiting American Supermax Prisons

More than two years ago, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, asked the U.S. State Department for permission to visit individuals in solitary confinement in supermax prisons and isolation units. He is still waiting for a response. Recently, our colleague Sarah Shourd interviewed Méndez for an article in the Daily Beast that describes his […]

In California Prisons, Hundreds Have Been Removed from Solitary Confinement———and Thousands Remain

It has been over three years since the first statewide hunger strike in protest of the California prison systems’ use of solitary confinement. The hunger strike, the first of many to follow, was launched by individuals housed in the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hunger strikes prompted state Legislative hearings, international scrutiny, and some […]

Working from the Inside Out

Guest Post by Maya Schenwar Editors’ Note: The following is an excerpt from Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, a new book by Maya Schenwar. Locked Down, Locked Out shows how “the institution that locks up 2.3 million Americans and decimates poor communities of color is shredding the […]

“A Girl Hung Herself Yesterday”: Deaths in Custody at California Institution for Women

On July 30, 2014, Margarita Murugia was found hanging in her solitary confinement cell at the California Institution for Women (CIW). “She was there for her own protection, not because she did something,” wrote April Harris, a woman currently incarcerated at CIW. ” Apparently her mom was dying of cancer and they refused to let her […]