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California Mandela Campaign: Newsom’s Proposed “Emergency” Regulations Double Down on Solitary

(Sacramento, CA) -- Today, the California Mandela Campaign released the following statement on Governor Newsom’s issuance of proposed “emergency” regulations that double down on the use of solitary confinement, simply by another name. The substance of the proposed regulations have not yet been made public, though the Mandela Campaign has just received a copy of the proposed regulations.

“Governor Newsom acknowledged that solitary confinement was “ripe for reform” when he vetoed the California Mandela Act in 2022. His veto message directed CDCR to issue regulations on the use of solitary confinement. After waiting one year without issuing any regulations, CDCR is now proposing “emergency” regulations — without any justifiable emergency — in order to limit the public comment period from 45 days to only 10, and during a holiday weekend.

These regulations were timed to be released in the final days that the Governor can sign or veto bills, presumably to be used in the event legislation on solitary confinement reached his desk. Withholding these regulations for a year, only to invoke an emergency process that limits public comment, demonstrates that this administration is not interested in transparency or stakeholder engagement. We call upon Governor Newsom to meaningfully address the harm that solitary confinement has inflicted on thousands of families in California, and the need to include impacted people in solutions to this human rights crisis.

While billed as reform, the proposed regulations double down on the use of solitary confinement, simply by another name. While renaming units as “restricted housing,” people can still be locked alone in cells or cages upwards of 21 to 24 hours a day without access to meaningful human contact or programming, while also being denied contact visits or regular communication with their loved ones. The regulations would permit people to be locked in these solitary units for months, years, and even indefinitely – lengths that amount to torture under the United Nations standards.

The fact that CDCR has not been forthcoming to share these comments publicly and is now moving to rush them through for approval shows that they are not interested in working with advocates, the public, and most importantly people inside these facilities or their family members. Even if the regulations were made public, the 10 day period for public comment would not allow for any meaningful engagement or feedback from those who are currently incarcerated and most deeply impacted by these changes.

The Governor and CDCR should open this process up to a true public comment period, in order to obtain meaningful stakeholder input, and should modify their regulations to actually restrict the use of solitary confinement in line with the provisions of the Mandela Act’s ban on solitary confinement for particularly vulnerable groups of people, 15-day limit on solitary confinement for everyone in line with international standards, and access to meaningful group out-of-cell programming and human engagement.”



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