CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

California to Begin Integrating Prisons for Men

LANCASTER, Calif. -- Male prisoners in the nation's largest corrections system, long kept segregated by race in an effort to temper violence, will soon be sharing cells with inmates of other ethnicities.

A program aimed at integrating California's prisons for men will begin in coming weeks at two facilities and will be extended to the state's 28 other penitentiaries over the next year or so, officials said.

Segregating prison housing has long been the system's unwritten policy. But after an inmate's civil rights lawsuit went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a mediated settlement led the state to reverse course despite many inmates' opposition.

Officials now argue that segregation perpetuated racial divisions and that integration would lessen them.

"We believe that once integrated housing is in place, it will ease those tensions and build that tolerance," said Ken Lewis, spokesman for the California State Prison, Los Angeles County, in Lancaster. "The system has to have something in place to give them a push. One day these guys will get out, and they'll have to learn to live among different people. If he can be tolerant in prison, he can be tolerant on the street." [Mark Godsey]

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Let me get this straight. We spent years creating a system where we lock new, young inmates into cages with predators, and now we are mixing them up racially in order to assuage a law that has no truck once you are behind the walls. I have absolutely no problem with this decision. All I ask is that those who voted for this pave the way. Have them share a house with a seasoned prison veteran of another race and, a few days later, let's hear them extoll the virtues of this groundbreaking plan. My guess is, you'll hear one word loud and clear above the rest: help.

Posted by: Tosh Dawson | Jul 30, 2008 5:33:35 PM

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