Arguments will be held on May 12th on whether California violated the settlement in our case, Ashker v. Governor, a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent a decade or more in solitary confinement.
In 2015, the case reached settlement, ending indeterminate solitary confinement in California. Previously, California promised to transfer people from solitary to general population units. But it has placed many of the men in units called “general population” where the men get even less time out of their cell than they had in the SHU. In 2018, the District Court ruled that a transfer to 23-hours a day alone in a cell is not a transfer to “general population.” What's more, California promised that prisoners held in a “Restricted Custody General Population Unit” or “RCGP” because of threats to their safety in general population would all be allowed to recreate in groups. Instead, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has placed half of the RCGP prisoners on “walk-alone status” where they have no group activities at all. In 2018, the District Court ruled that this too violated the Ashker settlement agreement.
The CDCR has appealed both losses to the 9th Circuit, and Plaintiffs are defending the District Court’s orders. Samuel Miller, cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights, will be arguing for Plaintiffs.
Note: Tune in at 9:00 AM PST on Tuesday, May 12. Arguments in Ashker will likely start between 9:00 and 9:30, depending on the length and order of arguments and there will be a link to the livestream available on the court’s website.