Attorneys for prison inmates sued California Wednesday in federal court to end race-based lockdowns in state penitentiaries. Prisons lock down inmates after riots to quell the violence, investigate the cause – and isolate the inmates involved. The law gives prison officials a lot of discretion to use lockdowns – but there are limits. KPCC’s Julie Small reports the class action lawsuit alleges that race-based lockdowns violate inmate rights.
California’s High Desert State Prison in north eastern Lassen County, is a maximum security facility. Following a violent incident there in the warden locked down a group of African-American inmates for 18 months. One of them, Robert Mitchell, stayed in the double-bunked cell he shared with another inmate–24 hours a day – seven days a week. Prison Law Office attorney Rebekah Evenson who is representing Mitchell says the type of discriminatory deprivation the inmate suffered is common in California prisons—and illegal.
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