"Dramatic Step Forward" Jules Lobel Says Of Settlement To End Unlimited Solitary Confinement For CA Prisoners
In a landmark settlement Tuesday, the state of California agreed to end unlimited solitary confinement for most prison inmates, a major victory in a much-followed case concerning the indeterminate solitary confinement of Pelican Bay prisoners in California. The lead attorney in the case Ashker v. Governor of California and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights is Pitt Law Professor Jules Lobel.
"This brings California in line with more modern national prison practices," Lobel told the New York Times. "People have been kept in solitary confinement for outrageously long periods of time. That's one of the problems in the U.S. -- people are warehoused in these places, and now that's going to change."
Lobel told the Associated Press, "I think there is a deepening movement away from solitary confinement in the country and I think this settlement will be a spur to that movement."
Lawyers in the case told the Los Angeles Times that the settlement sets the tone for similar changes elsewhere in the nation. "This is a dramatic step forward," Lobel said.
In today's episode of NPR's All Things Considered covering the case, Lobel said that public opinion may be souring on solitary confinement. He pointed out that President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy have both raised questions about the harmful consequences of isolating inmates.
"There clearly has been a fundamental shift in our society to recognizing that solitary confinement does present serious constitutional and psychological problems," he said.