On the heels of statewide prisoner hunger strikes, Amnesty International has released their new report (view here):
The US state of California must make substantial changes to their prison isolation units and halt the inhuman suffering of thousands of prisoners, Amnesty International said in a new report out today.
The Edge of Endurance: Conditions in California’s Security Housing Units is based on exclusive access gained by Amnesty International to isolation units in California and explores the conditions of confinement endured by more than 3,000 prisoners – including 78 who have spent in excess of two decades in isolation.
Prisoners in isolation are confined to at least 22 and a half hours a day in cells measuring fewer than eight square metres. In Pelican Bay State Prison, over 1,000 inmates are confined alone in windowless cells with poor access to natural light. Exercise is limited to and hour and a half a day, alone in a bare, concrete yard with 20 foot high walls with only a patch of sky visible through a partially meshed plastic roof.
Prisoners in isolation don’t have access to work, rehabilitation programmes or group activities on any kind.
They are also prevented from any contact with the outside world, consultations with medical staff take place behind barriers and visits from family or lawyers take place behind a glass screen. Prisoners are not entitled to regular telephone contact with relatives.