Jules Lobel: Pelican Bay prisoners trapped in inhumane conditions

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San Jose Mercury News


"On Monday, 30,000 prisoners in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in California went on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement and security unit conditions -- risking their lives for the chance to be freed from torturous conditions.

In the Pelican Bay security unit, prisoners spend 22½ to 24 hours a day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell. They are denied telephone calls, physical contact with family, vocational, recreational, or educational programming, and they are frequently denied medical care. Food is often rotten and barely edible, and temperatures can be extremely hot or extremely cold. Though solitary confinement for as little as 15 days can cause lasting psychological damage and is recognized as a human rights abuse, California routinely confines prisoners in the security unit for decades. In the words of one Pelican Bay prisoner, the unit is 'a living tomb.'..."

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