LEGISLATORS HEAR NEW CDCR SOLITARY CONFINEMENT PROTOCOLS; DEMONSTRATORS RALLY FOR INMATE RIGHTS
At the capitol Monday; a rally by supporters of prisoners in Security Housing Units, including the S.H.U. at Pelican Bay State Prison, as legislators meet to address the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) new protocols for solitary confinement. On the west steps Monday, demonstrators claim prison officials put inmates in state SHU’s for too long without any chance of being released to regular cells. Meanwhile inside the capitol building the state legislature hears from corrections officials on their new prison “step-up” program. CDCR says it's a voluntary way SHU inmates can make steps toward being housed back in a general population yard. The four-step program would require close to 4 years of good behavior and refraining from criminal gang behavior. Demonstrators Monday have asked the state to put a cap on how long prisoners can be in a SHU, while corrections officials say their new policy holds a prisoner to individual accountability.
”This is not acceptable,” said Izadeh Zohrabi, who’s brother is housed in a prison SHU, “They can't just say that now we are changing the policy and everything is different. They're doing this because there is a lawsuit pending."
"One of the biggest complaints of the inmate population is that they are held not to an individual accountability level,” CDCR Deputy Director for Facility Operations Michael Stainer added. “And we believe this policy is designed to provide that level of accountability."Last week, Governor Jerry Brown received a letter from inmates in Pelican Bay’s SHU in Crescent City, threatening to hunger strike again if CDCR does not address their concerns with the SHU. Despite the letter, the step up program was applauded by legislators. Since the program started in October, of 75 of 144 inmates screened are scheduled to be released to the general prison population. Corrections officials hope to make the 2-year pilot, a permanent program.