California Agrees to Scale Back Solitary Confinement

Sentences no longer than five years.


Come out and play!

There are people in California's prison system who have been held in near-complete isolation for more than a decade.

Today the state has announced a settlement with a group of these prisoners to move thousands of inmates out of solitary confinement. California had used this system to control prison gangs, but will seek alternative plans. From the Los Angeles Times:

Instead, the state agreed to create small, high-security units that keep its most dangerous inmates in a group setting where they are entitled to many of the same privileges as other prisoners: contact visits, phone calls and educational and rehabilitation programs.

Corrections spokesman Jeffrey Callison said the state would be able to utilize space within existing prisons to relocate the inmates removed from solitary.

But the majority of the several thousand gang-associated prisoners who have been either kept in isolation a decade or more, or have gone at least two years without a major rule violation, are to be moved back to the general prison population.

Solitary confinement as it is run now, before the settlement, remains reserved for those who commit crimes while behind bars, with set sentences that can run no longer than five years, the maximum penalty for murder in prison, apart from criminal sentences imposed by a judge.

The lead attorney for the case is from the Center for Constitutional Rights and is hoping this "dramatic step forward" will lead to similar reforms in other states.

In 2013, ReasonTV documented the overuse of prolonged solitary confinement on minors in the prison system. Watch below:


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  1. Empty cells are a waste of space.

  2. So juuuust long enough to drive someone insane but not so long as to make it look overly sadistic?

    1. So it is just like listening to an Eagles album?

      1. …you can never leave.

  3. Soft. On. Crime.

    We’re done for.

  4. “Solitary confinement as it is run now, before the settlement, remains reserved for those who commit crimes while behind bars”

    Wrong. It’s also for prisoners who don’t kiss the ring.

  5. I’m getting to the point where every story that doesn’t denounce California seems ridiculously biased in its favor. Its like reading about how Stalin decided to let the price of vodka float–even as he sends another round of kulaks to the gulag…

    “California Lawmakers Approve Equal-Pay Measure”…..1441066466

    When Obama lowered the “full time employee” designation from 40 hours to 30 hours, businesses didn’t react by offering health insurance to employees who work less than 40 hours a week. Employers reacted by slashing each employee’s hours from 40 hours a week to less than 30. Not only was that outcome foreseeable, it was also foreseen.

    I see other things happening in my crystal ball:

    Twenty bucks says male dominated STEM occupations become even less open to new female hires since every new female hire exacerbates the wage imbalance and makes hiring females entering the job market more expensive than males.

    Another $20 says this legislation makes it become increasingly difficult for males in all professions to get raises in California.

    And another $20 says this exacerbates the trend and makes California even less attractive as a state to live in, pay taxes in, and raise a family.

    Another $20 says they blame the Republicans in Sacramento for the state’s problems.

    My brother built himself a nice cabin up in the mountains in Utah. $20 says I start looking for land nearby.

    1. ensure equal compensation for women in the workplace by prohibiting employers from paying differing wages to employees who do “substantially similar work.”

      Define “substantially similar work”, California.

      Another $20 says that all employers will be required to file detailed job descriptions with the state in order to make these determinations.

      1. Define “substantially similar work”, California.

        It will be defined in thousands of court cases and after tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and likely billions of dollars in extorted settlements. What a dream this law is for plaintiffs’ lawyers. Now any woman who makes less than any man in her company can sue and it is up to the company to prove she is not doing substantially similar work and no one will really know what that means until after the courts define it.

        You would have to be insane to want to run a business in California.

        1. Oh, and it’s basically equivalent to forced unionization of all work. Think your salary is between you and your employer? Not anymore.

          1. I have never thought of it that way but you are right. The courts will define what every job is and what it should pay. God what a nightmare.

          2. “Oh, and it’s basically equivalent to forced unionization of all work. “

            My entire career was about being given opportunities to do things for far less compensation than someone else would have gotten.

            My entire career was been about producing far more than the other people in the company, too. I never wanted to make more than I was worth–but I did everything I could to make myself worth as much as possible.

            I doubt that could happen under this scheme. Sorry Ken, we know you’re worth twice as much as you’re getting paid, but but we can’t give you a 50% raise–because then we’d have to do the same for everyone else, too?

            Fuck that noise!

            1. I know for a fact that I am “underpaid” relative to some others in my line of work but a major reason for that is I am not supporting a wife or kids. *I* decide what I earn, not the fucking government. It is delusional for California to pretend that every person is an interchangeable widget, exactly the same as any other. They’re going full-on communist with this stuff.

              1. A lot of people prefer job security to higher pay. No hardworking, smart person wants to be overpaid. The competent manager fires such employees.

                And the opportunities I capitalized on wouldn’t have materialized if they’d had to pay me a market rate for what they were letting me do. They wanted to see if I could do it for better and for less.

                And the reputation I built while I was being “underpaid” (for want of a better term) was worth a HELL of a lot more than that piddly salary I lost out on.

                When the first thing other people (plural) do when they leave the company is try to recruit you to join them as a business partner, the last thing you’re worried about is whether you’re getting paid as much as another employee in the New York office. He makes more money, but nobody wants to offer him a partnership!

                What if I lived in a world where those opportunities never materialized–no matter hard I worked or how much I made for the company? That’s the world they’re trying to build.

                1. You know what the greatest piece of literature is in American history?

                  Bartleby the Scrivner.

         Bartleby,_the_Scrivener #Analysis_of_the_narrator

                  More capitalist than Atlas Shrugged and gets closer to the core of the problem.

                  It is so important to be able to find some kind of purpose in your work–even if your work is bring coffee to tired truck drivers. It’s what inspires people and gives their lives meaning and purpose.

                  They want to turn us all into Bartleby! But they don’t have the conscience of the narrator. These politicians are people who have never done anything productive in their lives–and I guess they imagine we’re all like that, too, or that the work ethic is for suckers or something.

                  I would never subject myself to such people. Their world is imaginable and yet unthinkable somehow. Oh humanity! indeed.

  6. Some people are never getting out of prison and thus can’t be deterred by the threat of a longer sentence. If you are not willing to have the death penalty, then how do you deter these people and keep them from victimizing other inmates? The only way I can see is to threaten them with harsh conditions. The end result of such a threat is the super max prisons we have.

    I think super maxes are horrible an inhumane. That being said, I think allowing prisoners to victimize each other is just as bad. I don’t really see a good solution to this. They will scale back solitary confinement and prisons will get more violent and harder to control as a result.

    Yes I know we should have many fewer people in prison that we do. But we will always have some people there and as long as we do we will face this problem.

    1. Do you think putting people in dehumanizing conditions might cause them to behave more poorly than they would otherwise?

      1. Sure but you have to understand that some people will behave horribly no matter what. Some people really are criminals and predators. Not everyone in prison is a peace loving Libertarian doing a ten year stint on a non violent drug charge or was framed by the prosecutor. Some people are violent horrible sociopath criminals. And without the threat of death or harsh conditions, it is very difficult to deter them.

        You know what is more dehumanizing than anything? Being stuck in a prison with people who are violent, can’t be deterred and mean you harm.

  7. I remember as a child being told in school about how awful solitary confinement was. But somehow they couldn’t make it sound scary enough to those of us who had to share bedrooms (or even beds) with brothers & sisters. (But we also thought our parents were making a sacrifice by sleeping together.)

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