In fact, Johnson's lawsuit was a direct challenge to the idea that prisoners were safer if housed with those of their own race, Deixler said.
Prison segregation policies are flawed because a great deal of underworld violence occurs between people of the same race, Deixler argued. Rivalries between the predominantly black Crips and Bloods, for example, claim numerous lives on the street, he said.
Deixler's client was a black man jailed for murder in 1987 who was not a member of any gang, court papers said. Being housed with other black men, most of whom belonged to gangs, left Johnson feeling defenseless -- unable to form alliances with prisoners who, like himself, were unaffiliated with gangs.
"He was a lone wolf who did not have a prospect for having protection," Deixler said. He sought an integrated prison setting because he wanted peers who would back him against the black gang members he found so menacing, he added.