California prisons no longer hold large numbers of prisoners for a decade or more in solitary confinement, but advocates said Monday that prison officials have failed to provide promised mental health services and other programs for traumatized inmates released into the general prison population.
“The torture of solitary confinement doesn’t end when the cell doors open,” said Jules Lobel, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which negotiated a settlement with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2015 to restrict the prisons’ use of isolation cells.
The agreement — which followed a series of statewide prison hunger strikes — prohibited sentences that kept inmates in solitary confinement for 10 or 20 years, or longer, if they were found to be affiliated with gangs. Those who commit violent crimes behind bars can still be sent to solitary confinement for up to 10 years, or longer if they pose a threat to other inmates or guards.
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