On Friday March 16th as CCR’s Azure Wheeler will be arguing that an element of the settlement agreement—the creation of a unit to house prisoners whom the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has determined would face a threat to their own safety if moved to the general prison population—has been administered in a highly restrictive manner for the several dozen prisoners housed there. Instead of undertaking the rigorous periodic review of whether a particular prisoner should remain in the Restrictive Custody General Population unit (RCGP), as required by the settlement agreement, the CDCR has undertaken only a cursory review, and has ignored information that demonstrates an absence of a safety threat. Prisoners house in RCGP have not been able to benefit from other reforms in the Ashker settlement, such as increased programming and contact visits with family. It is unclear how prisoners can get out of RCGP once they have been designated there, and it has effectively become permanent housing.
Also on Friday, former CCR Board President Jules Lobel will argue that the CDCR’s creation and administration of a so-called “walk-alone” status within the RCGP violates the terms of the settlement agreement. This status designates certain prisoners to effective isolation, allowing them recreation, programming, and meal time only when they are completely alone. Like the RCGP generally, “walk-alone” status ostensibly protects certain prisoner from threats to their safety. However, it is involuntary, isolating even prisoners who dispute that they face threats to their safety, and is even more lacking in programming than RCGP generally. On Friday, Azure and Jules will argue that these developments violate the terms of the settlement agreement, and urge the court to ensure that all vestiges of unconstitutional, indefinite solitary confinement are stamped out.