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

A corridor in the Pelican Bay SHU, where the hunger strikes began. (Photo: Michael Montgomery/KQED)

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 […]

Voices from Solitary: The Safari from Pelikkkan Bay

A cell in the Pelican Bay SHU, where the writer lived for two decades.

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 […]

At Hearing on Solitary Confinement in California Prisons, Advocates Challenge “Reforms”

Demonstrators gather at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday. Photo by Pete Brook.

“We’re here to question the existence and effects of the SHU,” stated California Assembly Member Tom Ammiano on Tuesday, “and we don’t think this new proposed policy goes nearly far enough.” Ammiano, who chairs the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, was speaking at the second joint California Assembly-Senate hearing on the use of solitary confinement, including SHUs (Security Housing […]

Seven Months After Historic Prison Hunger Strike, Opponents of Solitary Confinement in California Prepare for a Hearing and Gauge the Pace of Change

PelicanBay-SHUcell2

Tomorrow, California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions. Just under two weeks ago, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released new proposed regulations […]

Women in Solitary Confinement: “The Isolation Degenerates Us Into Madness”

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A mass prisoner hunger strike rocked California’s prison system this past summer, drawing international attention to the extensive use of solitary confinement in the United States. Increasingly, solitary is finding its way into the mainstream media and onto activist agendas. Nearly all of the attention, however, has focused on solitary confinement in men’s prisons; much less is known about the […]

How Many People Are In Solitary Confinement in California’s Prisons?

ASU Population as reported through COMPSTAT in October 2012 and September 2013.

With the considerable attention focused on solitary confinement in California, Solitary Watch has observed inconsistent and widely varied statistics provided on the number of individuals housed in solitary in the state. We have reviewed and compiled statistics reported monthly by each prison through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) COMPSTAT reports (Computer Statistics […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/1/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • The Los Angeles Times publishes an editorial calling for lawmakers to apply Pelican Bay’s restrictions on solitary confinement at correctional facilities statewide. “As lawmakers prepare for the second half […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/27/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • The Associated Press reports on a lawsuit alleging that a man with mental illness was repeatedly pepper sprayed by guards while held in solitary confinement at North Carolina’s Central Prison. Solitary […]

One Month After Historic Hunger Strike, California Lawmakers Hold Hearings on Solitary Confinement

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Guest Post by Victoria Law The following report on the October 9 hearing held by the California legislature originally appeared on Truthout. The author, Victoria Law is a writer, photographer, and mother. She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings […]

Seven Days in Solitary [10/20/13]

Solitary confinement cell

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. • The Seattle Times reports on a new program for prisoners with mental illness who are held in isolation at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. According to the story, “The new Reintegration and […]