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Lawsuit Over Race-Based Lockdowns

Sacramento, CA — A class action lawsuit filed against the California Department of Corrections could affect the Sierra Conservation Center.

The non-profit Berkeley based Prison Law Office has filed a lawsuit arguing that race should not be a determining factor when placing an inmate on lockdown status. Inmates are sometimes placed into temporary confinement following a fight or riot.

Inmates often separate themselves by race while in prison, and sometimes there are fights between the different ethnic groups. Often times when a large fight breaks out, inmates in the entire area are put on lockdown.

Lt. David Fish at Sierra Conservation Center says it is done for safety reasons. “The inmates out on the yard have their own rules that they seem to go by,” says Lt. Fish. “The inmates want to help one another out, and if one inmate has been affected by one race, the rest of that race wants to stand up and look out for him.”

Lt. Fish says inmates are placed back into the regular prison program as quickly and safely as possible.

“We need to look out for the inmates, staff and public to make sure that the disturbance does not spread,” he adds.

The lawsuit claims that there are around 350 full or partial race lockdowns annually across the 30 state prisons.