Calif. Prisons Will No Longer Punish All Inmates of the Same Race for the Actions of 1

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
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Prison reform is alive and well, and it can start from the inside out.

According to an Al-Jazeera report, an inmate filed a civil rights lawsuit against California’s prison system and got it to reverse a policy that caused every inmate of a particular race to lose privileges whenever an inmate of that race got into a fight. An agreement was reached before a judge even had to intervene.


“From now on, guards will only be allowed to impose lockdowns based on an inmate's location in the jail or through an ‘individualized threat assessment.’ Race or ethnicity cannot factor into the decision,” the report explained.

Robert Mitchell, an inmate at High Desert State Prison, filed a lawsuit in 2008 because he was fed up with how “when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up.”

His lawyers argued that the policy “violated prisoners’ constitutional rights,” but prison officials initially defended the practice, saying that it allowed them to quickly get control of a large segment of the population during violent incidents.

The Justice Department agreed with Mitchell.

“The U.S. Justice Department intervened in the case a year ago and sided with the inmates, stating that California’s racial lockdowns were based on ‘generalized fears of racial violence,’ according to court filings,” Al-Jazeera explained.


Read more at Al-Jazeera.

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