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: