At Hearing on Solitary Confinement in California Prisons, Advocates Challenge "Reforms"

“We’re here to question the existence and effects of the SHU,” stated California Assembly Member Tom Ammiano on Tuesday, “and we don’t think this new proposed policy goes nearly far enough.” Ammiano, who chairs the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, was speaking at the second joint California Assembly-Senate hearing on the use of solitary confinement, including SHUs (Security Housing […]

California Assembly Reviews Solitary Confinement Policies As Prisoners Threaten New Hunger Strike

On Monday, February 25th, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, held a hearing on the state’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). The hearing comes 18 months after the committee held a similar hearing prompted by  a three-week long hunger strike in June 2011 that involved thousands of California prisoners across […]

California Bill Would Increase Media Access to Prisoners

The nation’s supermax prisons and solitary confinement units are virtual black sites, off-limits and therefore invisible to both the public and the press. While laws vary from state to state, the media are for the most part barred from touring these facilities, and forbidden to conduct in-person interviews with prisoners being held in solitary confinement. These rules are made […]

Roundup of Testimony from California Assembly Hearing on Solitary Confinement

Today, some inmates in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) at Pelican Bay and Calipatria State Prisons in California will resume a hunger strike demanding reforms ranging from nutritious meals to reducing the use of long-term solitary confinement. In response to a three-week hunger strike this past summer, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee held a hearing on […]

California Teachers Union Letter of Support for Educational Programming in Solitary Confinement

On August 22nd, the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO,  drafted  a letter in support of expanded educational program to inmates in the Security Housing Units across the California prison system. Jenn Laskin, a grievance officer and teacher in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, formally submitted the letter from the […]

"A Form of Torture": Testimony of Laura Magnani on Solitary Confinement

Laura Magnani, Interim Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, testified before the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on the issue of solitary confinement. Magnani speaks about the findings of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, the circumstances of women in solitary confinement, and argues that prolonged solitary […]

"Pawns in a Failed Experiment": Testimony of Dr. Craig Haney on Solitary Confinement

Dr. Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, testified before the California Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety on August 23rd, 2011 regarding the issue of California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs). Dr. Haney provides a historical overview of the use of solitary confinement, litigation and research on solitary confinement, and […]