On Monday, prisoners in special security units at Pelican Bay State Prison will begin a hunger strike. These inmates, who have spent between 10 and 28 years in isolation, are demanding that changes be made to the prison’s special housing units, where they spend almost all their time alone. They claim that long-term isolation amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, and that prisoners are sometimes locked in these units for insubstantial reasons. We discuss these issues with a former inmate, the Department of Corrections, an investigative reporter, and a lawyer representing the prisoners in a class action federal lawsuit. The Center for Investigative Reporting and The California Report will feature in-depth series on this topic this week.
Michael Montgomery, reporter for KQED News and The Center for Investigative Reporting
Lonnie Rose, former Pelican Bay inmate who was held in a security housing unit for 9 1/2 years
Terry Thornton, deputy press secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Rachel Meeropol, senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, and part of the team of lawyers bringing the lawsuit on behalf of Pelican Bay prisoners in the solitary confinement units
Daniel Vasquez, former warden at San Quentin Prison