Legal Organizations Call on Governor Brown to End Long-Term Solitary Confinement

The undersigned call on Governor Jerry Brown to end long-term solitary confinement in California, and meet the 5 basic demands of the prison hunger strikers.

Long-term solitary confinement is a form of torture that violates the U.S. and California Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the U.S. ratified United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Furthermore, people inside California prisons are unfairly labeled as gang members, and their confinement frequently prolonged, not based on dangerous behavior, but instead based on possessing symbols or literature related to their cultural heritage alone (i.e., an Aztec Warrior, or books by African American human rights leaders), or merely having their name mentioned by someone else. This is in violation of the U.S. and California Constitution’s guarantees of due process.

UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, has said that solitary confinement for more than a few days should be considered torture and completely banned.1 Yet a 2012 report revealed that hundreds of people had been in solitary confinement for a decade or more while dozens had been in for 20 years or more here in California.2

Thousands of people inside CDCR prisons are currently on hunger strike in California to protest this treatment. Governor Brown must take action and change CDCR policies to respect the human and civil rights of all people.

Legal Professionals and Law Students Support The Pelican Bay Five Core Demands:

  1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse.
  2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
  3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons recommendations and end long-term solitary confinement.
  4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
  5. Create and expand constructive programming.

Signed,

American Civil Liberties Union - King Hall Chapter
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Center for Constitutional Rights
Equal Justice Society
Impact Fund
La Raza Centro Legal
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
NLG Berkeley Law Chapter
NLG Central Arizona Chapter
NLG King Hall, UC Davis School of Law Chapter
NLG Los Angeles Chapter
NLG New York City Chapter
Pangea Legal Services
Prison Activist Resource Center
Urban Justice Center
Worksafe


  1. United Nations News Centre, Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says, (October 18, 2011) (available at https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40097#.Ufw1P1PKQe4) (accessed August 2013). 

  2. Amnesty International, USA: The Edge of Endurance, (2012) (available at http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/edgeofendurancecaliforniareport.pdf).