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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 1, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
CORCORAN, Calif. - The large metal cages are lined up in two rows under the blistering Central Valley sun just outside the prison walls. For maximum security inmates here, this is what counts as outdoor space. Some inmates are placed in the cages with cellmates, but most are alone. One passes the time by pacing back and forth. Another does push-ups with the help of two prosthetic legs. Two men in adjacent cages discuss the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. The inmates in this part of Corcoran State Prison - known as the Security Housing Unit, or SHU - are considered some of the most dangerous in California's prison system.
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OPINION
December 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Treatment of prison inmates has finally begun to capture the attention of California's lawmakers and public, in large part because two lawsuits over constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care resulted in a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by thousands. The Dec. 31 deadline has been pushed back to February as the state negotiates with plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, and lawmakers and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown work through plans to devote more funding to treatment and alternative sentencing for mentally ill felons.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 6, 2011 | By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
Inmates in at least 11 of California's 33 prisons are refusing meals in solidarity with a hunger strike staged by prisoners in one of the system's special maximum-security units, officials said Tuesday. The strike began Friday when inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison stopped eating meals in protest of conditions that they contend are cruel and inhumane. "There are inmates in at least a third of our prisons who are refusing state-issued meals," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 23, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez
A corrections officer in a high-security unit at Corcoran State Prison was stabbed by an inmate who used a handmade key to break free from his handcuffs, authorities said Wednesday afternoon. The officer was treated for puncture wounds to his neck, head and shoulder and was listed in good condition, according to authorities with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The officer was stabbed with a inmate-made weapon. Authorities said another officer was kicked by an inmate and that two others sustained injuries to their wrists, backs and knees when they responded to gain control of the incident.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 23, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez
A corrections officer in a high-security unit at Corcoran State Prison was stabbed by an inmate who used a handmade key to break free from his handcuffs, authorities said Wednesday afternoon. The officer was treated for puncture wounds to his neck, head and shoulder and was listed in good condition, according to authorities with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The officer was stabbed with a inmate-made weapon. Authorities said another officer was kicked by an inmate and that two others sustained injuries to their wrists, backs and knees when they responded to gain control of the incident.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 1, 2012 | By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - California's practice of isolating prison inmates it suspects of gang affiliations and keeping them that way for years is being challenged in federal court by a national civil rights group. Inmate advocates say California is the only state that makes such extensive, harsh use of solitary confinement, which amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The inmates are segregated based on thin evidence and prevented from seeking parole, the advocates say, and their isolation leads to mental and medical problems.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 2, 2013 | By Paige St. John
Inmates at California's highest security prison Thursday filed for class-action status, seeking to broaden their 3-year-old federal lawsuit alleging the state's segregation policies equate to cruel and inhumane treatment. The plaintiffs are all prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, confined to the Security Housing Unit for what the state says are active ties with prison gangs, allegations the inmates deny. In the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, the prisoners contend they have been confined for years, and in some cases decades, to solitary, windowless cells where they spend almost all of their time, with little meaningful contact with others, restricted food, limited communication and no access to educational or treatment programs.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 7, 2013 | By Paige St. John
Inmates in at least seven California prisons continued a month-long hunger strike in protest of conditions in solitary confinement, an action state prison officials call a ploy to relax controls on gang activity. The state corrections department Wednesday said 346 inmates were on hunger strike, 200 of them refusing meals since July 8. They are protesting the state's placement of 4,500 inmates in isolation, some of them held there for decades. The court-appointed agency that runs prison healthcare programs said 24 inmates required medical attention, including one at Calipatria State Prison at the far southern edge of the state who was taken to a local hospital for "stabilization.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 5, 2011 | By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
U.S. prisons typically reserve solitary confinement for inmates who commit serious offenses behind bars. In California, however, suspected gang members — even those with clean prison records — can be held in isolation indefinitely with no legal recourse. Indeed, hundreds have been kept for more than a decade in 8-by-10-foot cells, with virtually no human contact for nearly 23 hours per day. Dozens have spent more than two decades in solitary, according to state figures. It's a harsh fate even by prison standards: Under current policy, an inmate who kills a guard faces a maximum of five years of isolation.
NEWS
June 1, 1999 | MARK ARAX, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In California's high-tech prisons, remote control buttons and electronic doors keep contact between guards and inmates to a minimum. But three times a day, food trays in hand, correctional officers come face-to-face with inmates. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be a dangerous time. Earlier this year, in the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran State Prison, Officer Gary Gulack was reminded of those risks in a most vile way. As he reached into the food port to retrieve a dinner tray from a cell, an inmate shoved the tray out and threw a cup of urine mixed with feces into Gulack's face.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 1, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
CORCORAN, Calif. - The large metal cages are lined up in two rows under the blistering Central Valley sun just outside the prison walls. For maximum security inmates here, this is what counts as outdoor space. Some inmates are placed in the cages with cellmates, but most are alone. One passes the time by pacing back and forth. Another does push-ups with the help of two prosthetic legs. Two men in adjacent cages discuss the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. The inmates in this part of Corcoran State Prison - known as the Security Housing Unit, or SHU - are considered some of the most dangerous in California's prison system.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 7, 2013 | By Paige St. John
Inmates in at least seven California prisons continued a month-long hunger strike in protest of conditions in solitary confinement, an action state prison officials call a ploy to relax controls on gang activity. The state corrections department Wednesday said 346 inmates were on hunger strike, 200 of them refusing meals since July 8. They are protesting the state's placement of 4,500 inmates in isolation, some of them held there for decades. The court-appointed agency that runs prison healthcare programs said 24 inmates required medical attention, including one at Calipatria State Prison at the far southern edge of the state who was taken to a local hospital for "stabilization.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 30, 2013 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - Supporters of California prison inmates on a weeks-long mass hunger strike convened on the Capitol Tuesday morning to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to take a more active role in resolving the protest. Around 50 people gathered on the Capitol's south lawn to show support for the inmates on strike and call for changes to policies regarding solitary confinement. Three organizers then delivered petitions with more than 70,000 signatures to the governor's office. Dolores Canales, co-founder of the California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, broke into tears after presenting the signatures to a member of the governor's staff.  "These prisoners are so committed to the cause that they would put their own bodies through such suffering and be now on the 23rd day of the hunger strike.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 2, 2013 | By Paige St. John
Inmates at California's highest security prison Thursday filed for class-action status, seeking to broaden their 3-year-old federal lawsuit alleging the state's segregation policies equate to cruel and inhumane treatment. The plaintiffs are all prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, confined to the Security Housing Unit for what the state says are active ties with prison gangs, allegations the inmates deny. In the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, the prisoners contend they have been confined for years, and in some cases decades, to solitary, windowless cells where they spend almost all of their time, with little meaningful contact with others, restricted food, limited communication and no access to educational or treatment programs.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 1, 2012 | By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - California's practice of isolating prison inmates it suspects of gang affiliations and keeping them that way for years is being challenged in federal court by a national civil rights group. Inmate advocates say California is the only state that makes such extensive, harsh use of solitary confinement, which amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. The inmates are segregated based on thin evidence and prevented from seeking parole, the advocates say, and their isolation leads to mental and medical problems.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 5, 2011 | By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
U.S. prisons typically reserve solitary confinement for inmates who commit serious offenses behind bars. In California, however, suspected gang members — even those with clean prison records — can be held in isolation indefinitely with no legal recourse. Indeed, hundreds have been kept for more than a decade in 8-by-10-foot cells, with virtually no human contact for nearly 23 hours per day. Dozens have spent more than two decades in solitary, according to state figures. It's a harsh fate even by prison standards: Under current policy, an inmate who kills a guard faces a maximum of five years of isolation.
OPINION
December 1, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Treatment of prison inmates has finally begun to capture the attention of California's lawmakers and public, in large part because two lawsuits over constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care resulted in a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by thousands. The Dec. 31 deadline has been pushed back to February as the state negotiates with plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, and lawmakers and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown work through plans to devote more funding to treatment and alternative sentencing for mentally ill felons.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 30, 2013 | By Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - Supporters of California prison inmates on a weeks-long mass hunger strike convened on the Capitol Tuesday morning to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to take a more active role in resolving the protest. Around 50 people gathered on the Capitol's south lawn to show support for the inmates on strike and call for changes to policies regarding solitary confinement. Three organizers then delivered petitions with more than 70,000 signatures to the governor's office. Dolores Canales, co-founder of the California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, broke into tears after presenting the signatures to a member of the governor's staff.  "These prisoners are so committed to the cause that they would put their own bodies through such suffering and be now on the 23rd day of the hunger strike.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 6, 2011 | By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
Inmates in at least 11 of California's 33 prisons are refusing meals in solidarity with a hunger strike staged by prisoners in one of the system's special maximum-security units, officials said Tuesday. The strike began Friday when inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison stopped eating meals in protest of conditions that they contend are cruel and inhumane. "There are inmates in at least a third of our prisons who are refusing state-issued meals," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
MAGAZINE
November 9, 2003
Why Prisons Like Pelican Bay May Be a Necessary Evil Vince Beiser's article on Pelican Bay State Prison ("A Necessary Evil?" Oct. 19) makes a good argument for allowing prisoners in the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, time to decompress in the general prison population before release. However, his general criticism of the prison system, and SHU in particular, is both ill-conceived and naive. Prisons are a necessary evil. While many inmates avail themselves of rehabilitative programs and emerge from their incarceration better people, a large number are simply being warehoused behind bars before they commit their next crime.
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