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Finally, some better news from our nation’s prison-industrial complex: California announced Tuesday that thousands of inmates in the state’s prisons would be shifted out of solitary confinement.

The Los Angeles Times provided details:

Ending years of litigation, hunger strikes and contentious debate, California has agreed to move thousands of prison inmates out of solitary confinement.

A legal settlement filed Tuesday between the state and a core group of inmates held in isolation for a decade or more at Pelican Bay State Prison calls for ending the use of solitary confinement to control prison gangs.

Instead, the state agreed to create small, high-security units that keep its most dangerous inmates in a group setting where they are entitled to many of the same privileges as other prisoners: contact visits, phone calls and educational and rehabilitation programs.

California’s reliance on solitary confinement has been challenged since a panel of experts told the state corrections department that the high numbers of inmates in lengthy isolation did little to improve prison security.

For an in-depth analysis of this issue, check out Truthdig columnist and legal expert Bill Blum’s recent column about Pelican Bay, in which he calls out California Attorney General Kamala Harris to confront the problem, here.

Truthdig recently tapped the inmates at Pelican Bay who went on strike in protest of the state solitary confinement practices, along with the lawyers who rallied for their cause, to be Truthdiggers of the Week. Read about them here.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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