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Following a mass hunger strike by prisoners in California last year, some state legislators promised to reform the use of Security Housing Units (SHU). This week, Assembly Bill 1652, passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If the bill becomes law, prisoners would only be sent to SHU for specific serious rules violations that come with determinate SHU sentences.
The Assembly Public Safety Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, will hear Ammiano’s AB 1652 to control use of solitary confinement on Tuesday, April 8, at 9 a.m. in Room 126 of the State Capitol. The bill comes out of a series of in-depth hearings held in the wake of prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013. AB 1652 limits the violations and situations for which a prisoner can be placed in SHU.
Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, today introduced new legislation to revise and reform solitary confinement conditions and procedures in California’s prisons. “Isolating large numbers of inmates for long periods of time, as we are currently doing, is an expensive and deeply troubling practice that undermines effective rehabilitation and long-term public safety,” Sen. Hancock said.
Representatives of the Short Corridor Collective at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit have based their decision on a meeting with fellow prisoners at the prison, the growing international condemnation of California’s practice of solitary confinement, as well as the commitment of California Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairs Loni Hancock and Tom Ammiano to convene a series of hearings in response to the strikers’ demands that would “address the issues that have been raised to a point where they can no longer be ignored.”
Members of a statewide anti-prison coalition acted swiftly this week to defeat Senate Bill 445 (Hill) Revenue Bond Financing of Prison Construction. Today the bill authored by Sen. Hill died in the Assembly Public Safety Committee when none of the committee members made a motion to bring the bill to a vote.
We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also as an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
A little over a month after CDCR released its “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification and Management Strategy,” which proposes new gang validation and SHU step down procedures, the department has called a meeting with members of the mediation team advocating on behalf of SHU and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg or ASU) prisoners.
The bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, to restore media access to prisoners, AB 1270, passed the California Assembly Jan. 26. The bill would remove restrictions on pre-arranged in-person interviews with specific prison inmates.