California Prison Hunger Strike Leader Is Convicted Murderer With Alleged Aryan Brotherhood Ties

California Inmates Demand End to Indefinite Solitary Confinement

"Plaintiffs are suffering serious mental and physical harm due to their prolonged confinement," a federal complaint stated.

The United Nations has found that just 15 days in solitary confinement violates human rights standards and can do irreparable mental damage to a person.

Among the inmates' demands include adequate and nutritious food and an end to group punishment.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it instituted reforms in its confinement policies and procedures last year, according to an update posted on its website.

"The reforms place an emphasis on documented behavior, provide individual accountability of offenders, incorporate additional elements of due process to the validation system and provide a Step-Down Program as an alternative for offenders to demonstrate their commitment and willingness to refrain from criminal gang behavior," the update said.

"Moreover, gang associates -- a majority of inmates housed in SHUs -- are no longer placed in a SHU based solely upon their validation unless there is a corresponding confirmed disciplinary behavior at the time of the original validation," the update said.

Since the reforms, the CDCR said 382 cases of inmates housed in SHUs have been reviewed. As of June, 208 of the cases have been transferred or approved for a transfer to rejoin the general prison population, while 115 have been approved for a multi-step program that provides gradual incentives for inmates who refrain from gang behavior.

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