California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has proposed legislation that could significantly restrict how solitary confinement is used in California prisons. Assembly Bill 1652 comes after massive public pressure and expert testimony exposed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) feeble attempts to defend its notorious solitary confinement and gang management policies at a special hearing on Tuesday.
“Hundreds of prisoners have been sent to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) isolation cells for reasons that have nothing to do with crimes they have committed, and without adequate opportunity to challenge those assignments,” said Ammiano in a statement released this week. “Today, in public hearing, we heard the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) say it’s changing those practices, but the changes are not enough. I’ve seen the conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison, and agree with international groups like Amnesty International who say these deprivation conditions do not meet accepted human rights standards.”
Ammiano’s bill (AB1652) would put a 36-months cap on how long someone targeted as part of a “security threat group” could be kept in solitary confinement.