Opinion

Commentary: Long-term prison lockdowns legal, but not safe

During lockdowns, prisons suspend exercise, visitors, religious services, hot meals, school and work programs.
During lockdowns, prisons suspend exercise, visitors, religious services, hot meals, school and work programs. Julie Fletcher / Orlando Sentinel / MCT

SACRAMENTO — Deference. That's the basis on which two judges of a three-judge federal court of appeals panel decided a California prison case.

Officials, the judges concluded, can indefinitely confine prisoners to their cells 24 hours a day, seven days a week — with the exception of a five-minute shower every other day. During these lockdowns, prisons suspend exercise, visitors, religious services, hot meals, school and work programs.

This isn't about short, temporary lockdowns, lasting days, after a violent incident. In those lockdowns, the aim is to do cell searches and investigations, restoring normal operations as soon as possible.

In the case at hand, prisoners at California State Prison, Sacramento (also known as "New Folsom"), were in lockdown for 385 days out of 605. Each of the lockdowns was for an extended period — 90 days, 84 days, 149 days and 62 days.

To read the complete editorial, visit sacbee.com.

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