CALIFORNIA — More than 1, 700 California prisons, held in maximum isolation units, have gone on a hunger strike in protest of their penance, which is met with no explicit crime.
The strike began with inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison.
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Their isolation, which can last for decades, is often not explicitly disciplinary, and therefore not subject to court oversight. Their treatment is simply a matter of administrative convenience.Solitary confinement has been transmuted from an occasional tool of discipline into a widespread form of preventive detention. The Supreme Court, over the last two decades, has whittled steadily away at the rights of inmates, surrendering to prison administrators virtually all control over what is done to those held in “administrative segregation.” Since it is not defined as punishment for a crime, it does not fall under “cruel and unusual punishment,” the reasoning goes.