A look inside California’s toughest prison

Pelican Bay State Prison, looking west, taken ...
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By Rina Palta

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If you’re convicted of committing a felony in California, you can end up in many kinds of prisons. Steal a lot of money in a Ponzi scheme – you might end up in minimum security. Locked up, but with little supervision. Commit a violent crime, and you could be sent to a medium-security prison, like Folsom. Kill someone, and you could be headed for supermax.

Pelican Bay State Prison, in Crescent City, is a maximum-security prison. About 3,230 of California’s most violent criminals live there – and those who cause problems within prison walls end up in the Security Housing Unit, or SHU. It’s highly restricted living conditions that some have called solitary confinement. And those stuck in the SHU for years say it be literally maddening.

Last month, some of those inmates began a hunger strike, and they were quickly joined by more than a thousand prisoners around the state. With media attention drawn to harsh conditions in Pelican Bay, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation decided to host a tour of the facility. KALW’s criminal justice reporter, Rina Palta was there.

Read the rest of this article at KALWNews.org


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