UN investigating torture allegations in California prisons
October 21, 2013
The United Nations’ lead torture investigator has agreed to look into allegations that some California prisoners are not treated humanely.
Juan Mendez is seeking access to California lockups to ensure that prisoner’s rights are being protected.
“We should have more justification” for putting prisoners in isolation,” Mendez told the Los Angeles Times.
In July, inmates at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo County joined a three-week statewide hunger strike to protest long-term, solitary lockup of inmates in security housing units.
Prisoners are confined in these isolation cells usually after some infraction in the prison. They are kept locked in sound proof cells for up to 23 hours a day. Inmates claim the only way to get out is to admit gang involvement or to provide incriminating information on gang members, which puts them at risk.
Some news reports claim that California prison authorities abuse the practice of isolating inmates and have kept some inmates in isolation for decades.
The United Nations torture investigator said solitary confinement should be used as discipline for only the most serious infractions and also that mentally ill prisoners should not be isolated.