weather icon Mostly Cloudy

California to end unlimited solitary confinement for gang-affiliated inmates

Sacramento — Ashker v. Governor of California reached a settlement Tuesday, allowing thousands of gang-affiliated inmates to move out of isolation.

Solitary confinement, or California’s “segregated units,” were created decades ago as a remedy for escalated gang activities within the prison system.

“If he hasn’t done anything, does he have to be in a place where he languishes indefinitely?” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said. “The department has moved from a affiliation system to a behavior based system. It aligns California more with national best practices.”

As of Aug. 31, there were 6,400 California inmates in segregated units. Now, those who have been in isolation for a decade or more and have gone two years without a major violation can be put in general population.

Some attorneys see this settlement as a victory for human rights.

“We have the Constitution and the Eighth Amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, even for people who have committed crimes” Attorney Kinsey Reynolds said.

Todd Ashker is one of the main plaintiffs in the settlement. He is one of many inmates who have been in isolation for decades at Pelican Bay State Prison. He has been the poster child for prison hunger strikes and human rights within prison.

Philip Cozens represented Ashker in 1991, when Ashker committed second-degree murder in prison.

“You don’t understand the motivations of a mad dog,” Cozens said.

In 1991, Cozens was nearly killed by Ashker’s friend and fellow member of the Arian Brotherhood, Paul Schneider.

“Schneider removed a 9 inch shank from his rectal cavity with fecal matter still on it, and stabbed me 4 times,” Cozens said.

With the settlement, Cozens foresees a return to a more violent prison system in California.

“These people are much more dangerous and have a much different agenda than a regular citizen or the Department of Corrections … I’d be very careful,” he said.

In the last three years, the CDCR has released 1,100 inmates into general population, and has seen minimal problems. They are confident this settlement will work in the future.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
‘American Taliban’ Lindh to be released after nearly 20 years

John Walker Lindh, the Californian who became known as the American Taliban after he was captured by U.S. forces in the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, is set to go free after nearly two decades in prison.

Probe inconclusive on racist picture in Va. governor’s yearbook

An investigation ordered up by a Virginia medical school failed to determine whether Gov. Ralph Northam is in a 1984 yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Man who threatened mass shooting is serial online harasser

Only hours before women marched through many U.S. cities in January, Christopher Cleary set off a manhunt when he posted a Facebook message threatening to kill “as many girls as I see” in retaliation for years of romantic rejection.

N. Korea says Biden ‘fool of low IQ’ over Kim criticism

North Korea has labeled Joe Biden a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being” after the U.S. presidential hopeful called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a tyrant.

9 killed by car bomb near Somalia’s presidential palace

Islamic extremists exploded a suicide car bomb and killed at least nine people, including Somalia’s former foreign minister, near the presidential palace on Wednesday, police said.

Report: Mississippi lawmaker punched wife in face over sex

A south Mississippi lawmaker punched his wife in the face after she didn’t undress quickly enough when the lawmaker wanted to have sex, according to a police report in the case.

UK prime minister in peril as Brexit offer slammed

British Prime Minister Theresa May faced a chorus of calls Wednesday to rip up her tattered Brexit blueprint and end to her embattled premiership.