Michael Montgomery

Calif. Prison Hunger Strike Leader Targeted in Federal Drug Trafficking Probe

In the month since state inmates launched a hunger strike to protest conditions at California’s highest-security lockups, corrections officials have alleged the ringleaders are major players in violent prison gangs and that their motives are far from pure. “We’re talking about convicted murderers who are putting lives at risk to advance their own agenda of … Continue reading Calif. Prison Hunger Strike Leader Targeted in Federal Drug Trafficking Probe →

Does 22 1/2 Hours Alone in an 8 x 10 Cell Every Day Amount to Torture? Video From Inside Pelican Bay Prison

“I haven’t seen the moon since 1998.” That’s inmate Jeremy Beasley, talking to me while sitting–shackled–in an interview room at Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s highest security lockup. Beasley, a convicted murderer, was clearly surprised by my presence—he told me he hadn’t met with a visitor since 1994, when he was incarcerated. It’s not just … Continue reading Does 22 1/2 Hours Alone in an 8 x 10 Cell Every Day Amount to Torture? Video From Inside Pelican Bay Prison →

Faced With Lawsuit, State Moves to Transfer Prisoners From Controversial Isolation Units

Facing a federal lawsuit, state corrections officials are moving forward with a plan to transfer hundreds of alleged prison gang members from controversial isolation units to regular lockups around the state. The first group of 45 inmates will be removed from the state’s Security Housing Units in the coming weeks, said Kelly Harrington, associate director … Continue reading Faced With Lawsuit, State Moves to Transfer Prisoners From Controversial Isolation Units →

Advocacy Groups Wary of New Plan for Prison Isolation Units

By Michael Montgomery, California Watch State corrections officials are moving forward with a plan for handling prison gangs and other violent groups, including changing rules that have kept some inmates locked in special isolation units for decades. But the initiative is raising concern among prisoner rights advocates and some experts who worry that it will … Continue reading Advocacy Groups Wary of New Plan for Prison Isolation Units →

New Book Discounts Theory of Marijuana as Top US Cash Crop

by Michael Montgomery, California Watch For years, legalization advocates have argued that marijuana is America’s leading cash crop, outranking corn, wheat, soy and a host of other heartland staples produced on an industrial scale. Bringing pot production above ground, the argument goes, could produce a $30 billion tax bonanza for cash-strapped governments and a huge … Continue reading New Book Discounts Theory of Marijuana as Top US Cash Crop →

Calif. to Start Bringing Back Inmates in Out-of-State Prisons

by Michael Montgomery, California Watch With severe overcrowding easing in state lockups, California is winding down a controversial deal with the nation’s biggest private prison operator and will bring thousands of inmates housed in facilities as far away as Mississippi back to California within the next few years. Currently, some 9,500 state inmates are serving … Continue reading Calif. to Start Bringing Back Inmates in Out-of-State Prisons →

High-Tech Plan to Block Prison Cell Phones ‘Unwise,’ Report Says

From California Watch A deal between Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and a private communications company to deploy special equipment to block the rampant use of contraband cell phones by state prison inmates is based on a technology that is unproven and could undermine public safety, according to a new report. A studyby the nonpartisan California … Continue reading High-Tech Plan to Block Prison Cell Phones ‘Unwise,’ Report Says →

In Mendocino County, a Sheriff’s Department Split Over Marijuana Permitting

Last Tuesday the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to end a unique program that placed medical marijuana cultivation under the supervision of the sheriff’s department, approving a watered down version of the ordinance (pdf), known as 9.31, instead. The permit program was the first of its kind in the nation, but it ran afoul … Continue reading In Mendocino County, a Sheriff’s Department Split Over Marijuana Permitting →

Mendocino County Ends Medical Pot Permitting Program

Bowing to federal pressure, Mendocino County will no longer issue permits to medical marijuana growers. The County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to end the popular permit program, which was the first of its kind in the nation. The vote also makes it illegal to cultivate more than 25 plants, reducing the amount from the … Continue reading Mendocino County Ends Medical Pot Permitting Program →

Prosecutors Move to Shut Down Mendocino Pot Permit Program

From California Watch Mendocino County’s ambitious effort to regulate marijuana production – the first of its kind in California and the nation – is facing growing uncertainty following new threats of legal action by federal prosecutors. The controversial program, which began two years ago, authorizes growers to cultivate up to 99 marijuana plants, provided they … Continue reading Prosecutors Move to Shut Down Mendocino Pot Permit Program →