When the integration begins in California, it will not be blind. Even though race will no longer be a factor in deciding which cells inmates live in, the California Department of Corrections will evaluate a number of other factors, including street gang affiliation, mental stability, age and size.
California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said her staff is prepared for the integration and she does not expect any major problems.
"Some inmates are going to be restricted to their own race because they were either the perpetrator or victim of a racially motivated incident," Thornton said.
If inmates refuse to integrate, they will be penalized. In most cases those who will not mix with other races will be sent to solitary confinement for 90 days. Some inmates, like David Glover, who has been at San Quentin for four months on a burglary conviction, said they would rather be penalized than be forced to integrate.
"Not because I have a problem with other races, but because every race has a shot caller and you have to obey the rules," Glover said.
But not all inmates believe they have the option to refuse integration. Will Williams is trying to get parole and if he does not allow an inmate of another race into his cell, he fears he will lose his chances at parole.
"Going home is the most important thing," Williams said. "Regardless of whatever else happens, that's first, so if I have to put up with somebody coming into the cell who's a different race, if that's what I have to do to get out of here, hey, at least maybe I'll be going home."