Amnesty International Urges Improvement in California's Prison Isolation Unit Conditions
Maureen Cosgrove at 8:59 AM ET
- Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday urged California authorities to end "shocking conditions" in high-security prison isolation units. In a report [text, PDF] entitled "The Edge of Endurance: Conditions in California's Security Housing Units," AI examined the prison conditions of over 3,000 individuals who have been confined in isolation in California prisons. The prisoners, who spend over 22 hours each day in their cells without work, activities or rehabilitation, endure "inhuman suffering," AI asserted. US Researcher for AI Angela Wright visited several prisons in the state and deplored the conditions:
- The conditions and length of imprisonment in California's isolation units are simply shocking. To deprive prisoners in a segregated environment of natural light, adequate exercise or meaningful human contact is unnecessarily punitive and unjustifiable in all circumstances. Access to natural light and exercise are basic needs, essential for physical and mental health.
AI criticized California in particular for holding prisoners in isolation for longer periods than in any other US state prison system. AI recommended that California adopt a behavior evaluation based process by which prisoners in isolation could earn their way into the general prison population. The advocacy group also proposed changes to the high security isolation unit conditions, including better exercise and more human contact.