Over 10,000 adults are in various forms of solitary confinement in California prisons. At Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City 500 inmates have been in solitary for over 10 years, close to 80 for over 20 years and at least 2 for over 40 years.
- Governor, State of California
Well over ten thousand adult prisoners are currently being held in some form of solitary confinement in California prisons – 80,000 in total across the United States.
Among the worst form of solitary confinement is the indefinite and long‐term, extreme isolation of the Security Housing Units (the SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s “supermax”. Locked in a 11’7” x 7’7” windowless concrete box/cell for at least 22 ½ hours a day, day in day out, year after year, prisoners endure without sunlight, fresh air or human touch. In contrast to every other system in the United States, prisoners can’t even receive a phone call unless a family member has died.
Over 500 prisoners have been locked down in the Pelican Bay SHU for over 10 years. About 80 of them have been in solitary for over 20 years and at least two prisoners have been isolated for over 40 years. This is a policy that condemns to permanent life long isolation.
Extended solitary confinement is globally recognized as torture. Cut off from any normal human interaction, enduring sensory and physical deprivation, many prisoners describe their lockdown in the SHU as being “buried alive”. The State of California asserts that solitary confinement is not a form of punishment, but rather an “administrative assignment” to insure the safety of the prison and the public. These conditions of torture will not make anyone safer, or prepare men subjected to such dehumanizing conditioning for eventual release.
We stand together against these shameful practices and consider them extensions of the same inhumanity practiced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. In defense of the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we, the undersigned, call on Governor Jerry Brown to end this torture at Pelican Bay and all California Prisons immediately.
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