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Special Rapporteur on Torture Speaks to NPR about Ending Solitary Confinement in California Prisons

Special Rapporteur on Torture Speaks to NPR about Ending Solitary Confinement in California Prisons

5 September 2015- On Saturday September 5, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez spoke to NPR’s All Things Considered about the landmark settlement in the federal class action lawsuit of Ashker v. Governor of California, which will effectively end indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons. The Special Rapporteur explained that in California, solitary confinement “is used to punish or to isolate people who are deemed to belong to gangs . . . which inflicts the kind of mental pain and suffering that is associated with the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the international law. And in the most severe cases it can even be considered torture.” He praised the decision to place approximately 90 percent of the 3,000 or 4,000 people in solitary confinement into the general prison population as a “general trend towards recognizing that solitary confinement can be a very serious violation of constitutional and even international human rights.”

To listen to the full interview, please click here

Special Rapporteur on Torture celebrates a landmark settlement which will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons

Special Rapporteur on Torture celebrates a landmark settlement which will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons

September 4 2015- Special Rapporteur on Torture together with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and many others celebrates a landmark settlement in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California, which will effectively end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. The Special Rapporteur, Professor Juan E. Méndez, in his capacity as an expert witness, provided expert testimony after visiting and interviewing eleven prisoners held in prolonged and indefinitely solitary confinement in Pelican Bay prison in December 2014. Professor Méndez also visited the premises of the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and the wing for Administrative Segregation at Pelican Bay, concluding that “the conditions of confinement at the SHU of Pelican Bay prison amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to customary international law rules codified in the Convention Against Torture.” You can read the expert report here

For more information about the settlement, please visit the CCR webpage