California’s Pelican Bay State Prison has been ordered to end race-based punishment except during riots and other dire emergencies by a federal appeals court, reports The Associated Press.
“If the warden doesn’t cease these racially discriminatory practices, he will be in contempt of court”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruling in January said prison officials improperly deprived some ethnic groups of family visits, outside exercise and religious services when racial tension was heightened.
The three-judge ruling ordered prison officials to find alternative ways of restraining race-based hostility than long-term restrictions placed on ethnic groups.
In the ruling the justices noted, “prison officials said the two groups were at ‘war’ and attacked each other on sight.”
The prison official’s claims that targeting known gang members was justified, failed to persuade the judges to allow the race-based practices to continue.
In 2000, Pelican Bay was placed on lockdown after a riot, however southern Hispanic prisoners remained on lockdown for four years after the lockdown began.
The new ruling notes that Pelican Bay had been ordered to end race-based practices in 2009.
“If the warden doesn’t cease these racially discriminatory practices, he will be in contempt of court,” said Don Specter, lead attorney in the case for the Prison Law Office.