The human rights group Amnesty International (AI) has called on the United States to end the “shocking” treatment of prisoners in the state of California.
The group accused the US of keeping prisoners under harsh conditions in isolation cells, which house some 3,000 inmates.
According to a report by the rights group, prisoners in isolation are confined to at least 22 and a half hours a day in windowless cells with poor access to natural light.
“Exercise is limited to an hour and a half a day, alone in a bare, concrete yard with 20 feet high walls with only a patch of sky visible through a partially meshed plastic roof. Prisoners in isolation do not have access to work, rehabilitation programs or group activities of any kind,” the report said.
Amnesty International also noted that the isolation cells are intended for only the most dangerous prisoners. However, many of the inmates in California have mental or behavioral issues, or are being penalized for repeated minor infractions. It added that 78 inmates have spent more than two decades inside the cells. “The conditions and length of imprisonment in California’s isolation units are simply shocking,” said Angela Wright, a researcher at Amnesty International.
“To deprive prisoners in a segregated environment without natural light, adequate exercise or meaningful human contact is unnecessarily punitive and unjustifiable in all circumstances. Access to natural light and exercise are basic needs, essential for physical and mental health,” she added.
The charges are an embarrassment for the United States, which frequently accuses other countries of violating human rights issues in its annual reports.
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