OAKLAND -- A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expressed concern at a hearing, however, that changes the state has made in how it identifies inmates for isolation means those prisoners won't be included in the pending class-action lawsuit.
What's more, lawyers for the state say they are in the process of moving some existing prisoners out of confinement in Pelican Bay's super-maximum security isolation cells.
"I'm wondering how I would manage a class that has people moving in and out," Wilken said. Nevertheless, she used Thursday's hearing in Oakland to set Nov. 3, 2014, for the trial. Her ruling over whether that trial will be a class action, or remain confined to the few inmates who filed the case, is yet to be decided.