California to Free Thousands from Solitary Confinement After Settling Lawsuit
Date:  09-02-2015

Most people in isolation were held based on gang affiliations or mental illness
On October 14, 2011, Reentry Centrall posted in which UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the United Nations General Assembly, “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique.”

That message was slow to reach the ears of the State of California, until a group of men incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison, some of whom have been held in solitary confinement based on gang affiliation for decades, filed a lawsuit against the policy. California will not totally abolish solitary confinement, but will be more discriminating in its use.

On September 1, 2015 it was announced that a settlement was reached allowing thousands of people being held in solitary confinement to be released into the general population of prison . While there are critics of the agreement who say the safety of correctional officers will once again be compromised, others hail it as a move to end an inhumane policy that has disastrous effects on the human mind. Since the majority of those who have been incarcerated in solitary confinement for years will eventually be released, a strong mental health treatment plan for these individuals should be considered while they are still incarcerated to help reduce the disorders associated with being isolated for a long period of time.

For more background information on California’s solitary confinement policy and the agreement to dismantle it, click here.