Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Solitary Confinement Lawsuit Attains Class Action Status

The struggle against long-term solitary confinement in California continues! Months ago, we reported about the certification hearing for Ashker v. Brown, a lawsuit against solitary confinement.

The most recent news are from June 2: U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken granted the lawsuit class action status. The L.A. Times reports:
"We pose a fundamental question: Is it constitutional to hold someone in solitary confinement for over a decade," said Alexis Agathocleous, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. 
The class action motion was filed by 10 Pelican Bay inmates in solitary confinement, but California has since moved five of them to other quarters. Wilken's order allows the remaining five prisoners to represent the larger class of some 500 Pelican Bay prisoners who have spent more than a decade in isolation, and some 1,100 put into solitary because of alleged gang associations.

Many of the inmates named in the suit also were organizers of a lengthy statewide prison hunger strike last summer. 
Wilken refused to allow the state prison guard union to intervene in the lawsuit. The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. had argued that it had an interest in protecting the safety of its members by preventing prisoners from leaving solitary confinement.
We will keep following up on the lawsuit and reporting on its progress.

cross-posted with some changes at Prawfs Blawg.

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