Valley State Prison for Women

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT regarding Inhumane CA prison isolation units

California’s prison isolation units remain inhumane despite proposals to amend policies   3/12/12

Amnesty International welcomes proposals by the California prison authorities to provide a route out of isolation for validated gang members through a step-down process.

 

However, Amnesty International remains deeply concerned by conditions in the state’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) units, which fall short of international standards for humane treatment.

 

13 Reasons to Shut Down California SHUs*

1. SHUs don’t work.

Rates of gang activity, yard violence, illegal drug sales and assaults on staff are increasing in California, while decreasing in other states. Maryland has recently closed its SHU.

2. SHUs add violence to the prison system.

The psychologically brutal and degrading conditions of long term SHU confinement encourages violence and harassment by guards and enrages inmates.

3. SHUs cause short, medium, and long term psychological breakdown and social deterioration.

SHU inmates have no physical contact with anyone for years on end and rarely are able to talk to anyone else in the prison.

4. SHUs do not serve public safety.

Inmates are often released directly from the SHU to the general public without skills that would help them survive. They are thus often less well equipped than nonSHU inmates to function in society. Staff working in SHU units have higher rates of drug use, family breakdown, and spouse/child abuse.