The nationwide movement to end solitary confinement is growing – even attracting the attention of a Supreme Court justice – and today it took a significant step forward. CCR and the State of California have agreed to a settlement in our case challenging long-term solitary confinement in California, Ashker v. Governor of California. The reforms laid out in our agreement with the state will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in the Special Housing Units (SHU) throughout California state prisons and will lead to the speedy release into general population of thousands of people currently languishing in extreme isolation. For a summary of the specific reforms and the changes they will bring, check out CCR’s “Key Reforms to California’s Use of Solitary Confinement” document.
The struggle to end California’s extreme use of solitary confinement has always been led by people in prison and their families, organizing through the prison walls. Incarcerated activists first brought the case that became Ashker and organized the hunger strikes that made the barbaric reality of solitary a political and policy issue. Throughout the lawsuit, our plaintiffs were involved at every step, and the settlement gives them an unprecedented role in monitoring compliance with its terms. Their organizing efforts – in the face of unimaginable obstacles – have been extraordinary.
One of the best ways to support people in prison is to elevate their voices. Please share CCR’s video, above, featuring the Ashker plaintiffs describing their gut-wrenching experiences in the SHU. Please also share their statement on the settlement, which is intended to bring an end to the horrific experiences they describe in the video.
“California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action. This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters…. As the recent statements of President Obama and of Justice Kennedy illustrate, the nation is turning against solitary confinement. We celebrate this victory while, at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle. We are fully committed to that effort, and invite you to join us.”
You can read their full statement here.
Ultimately, the struggles of people in prison and their families will fail unless those of us on the outside listen, understand their plight, and spread their words. So please help keep this movement going – by sharing today’s great news as inspiration for the long haul.