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California prisoners granted class-action lawsuit against race-based policies




A California Department of Corrections officer speaks to inmates at Chino State Prison in the dayroom of Sycamore Hall that was modified to house prisoners on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California.
A California Department of Corrections officer speaks to inmates at Chino State Prison in the dayroom of Sycamore Hall that was modified to house prisoners on December 10, 2010 in Chino, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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A federal judge bolstered a lawsuit yesterday allowing 125,000 California inmates to be represented in a challenge to race-based prison treatment.

The case stems from an inmate at California’s High Desert State Prison in north eastern Lassen County - a maximum security facility. Following a violent incident there in the warden locked down a group of African-American inmates for 18 months.

One of them, Robert Mitchell, stayed in the double-bunked cell he shared with another inmate -24 hours a day for seven days a week.

As reported by KPCC, Prison Law Office attorney Rebekah Evenson who is representing Mitchell said the type of discriminatory deprivation the inmate suffered is common in California prisons — and illegal, she contends.

Most prison gangs fall along racial lines, as do the tensions and violence. Nevertheless, the Department of Corrections recently revised lockdown policies in an effort to be more race-neutral, but those details are not yet known.

So what is the solution for quelling violence and maintaining relative accord among inmates? How do other states deal with such problems without violating the law?

Guests:

Don Specter, Director of the Prison Law Office, which is representing the 125,000 California inmates covered in the class-action lawsuit

Scott Kernan, former Undersecretary of Operations, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation