California Inmates Win Class-Action Status over Race-Based Treatment

Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2014

A federal judge in Sacramento on Wednesday awarded class-action status to California prison inmates who allege that their rights are violated by what they say are widespread instances of race-based punishment.

Prison officials acknowledge they respond to outbreaks of violence by ordering sanctions, including sweeping lockdowns, that can last for months. They say every inmate is assigned a race or ethnic code: black, Hispanic, white or other, and at some prisons, inmates live in cells where their race is denoted by color-coded signs.

But officials deny in court filings that lockdowns are punishment that is decided by race. They contend that inmates align themselves with gangs based on race and ethnic group, and that prison officials seek to control violence among those gangs.


There was no immediate comment by the corrections department, but in past statements, agency officials have called management of gang-related violence “complex and challenging.” Because the litigation is now a class action, losing the case would force California to change its prison gang control strategies statewide.

“If wardens did not have the discretion to lock down racial groups after such a race-based incident, they would either have to lock down all inmates in the affected area, or risk further violence by inmates associated with the involved inmates,” associate prisons director Kelly Harrington testified last year.

Nevertheless, a corrections official said Wednesday the lockdown policy was being revised, the second time in two years. “We want to be as race-neutral as possible,” said spokeswoman Terry Thornton.


California’s controversial race-based prison practices are unique among states. The U.S. Justice Department intervened in the case in October, telling the court California’s racial lockdowns were inconsistent with federal practices, ineffective, and based on “generalized fears of racial violence.”

After a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court battle over the state’s long-standing practice of segregating inmates upon arrival, California agreed to end the practice. Instead, inmates now are asked whether they will accept housing with those of other races.


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  • One of my friends warned the guards that he’d kill a black guy if he was locked up in the same cell with one. They did it anyway. He wasn’t successful, as the cops had already broken his right arm, but he sure did pound that Afritard.

    • propagandaoftruth

      What ever happened to all those multi-ethnic gangs you used to see on TV and movies?

      Beat it!

      • APaige

        They must have kidnapped the White teacher who turns the class full of Black and Brown idiots into scholars and ran to the dance competition to save the neighborhood youth center.

      • bilderbuster

        They’re still out there in TV land causing havoc but racist Whites are still the kings of crime on the networks.
        “Bubba” the White jailhouse homosexual rapist is mentioned regularly on the sitcoms and Whites are continuing their nationwide home break-in spree on all of the burglar alarm commercials.

        • ElComadreja

          Virtually all jailhouse rape is committed by blacks with Hispanics and whites responsible for smaller percentages. The blacks favorite target is whitey of course. They justify it as “payback” and the prison system allows it to appease the beasts.

      • Lt. Greyman, NVA

        Whatever became of those “White gangs” in Detroit.

        “Warriors! Come out an playyyy!”

        • propagandaoftruth

          Warriors with James Remar – Dexter’s pops.

          That movie subsequently became very popular with the homosexual community, male of course.

          Yeah, I can see it, lol…

      • The Hollywood multi-culti mixed gangs never existed. The Hollyweirdos were unable to come to grips with the idea that criminal gangs are strictly racial. They are still in denial on this subject. In the movie “Colors” we see a mixed black-Mexican gang in which a Mexican woman, played by Maria Alonzo has sex with blacks. In reality, she would have probably been killed for doing that.

        • propagandaoftruth

          I’ve always liked “Fight for Your Life” with the White/Asiatic/Hispanic trio of escapees led by the White guy, of course, William Sanderson (Larry from Larry Daryl and Daryl fame, Newhart)…

          Some great lines in that one…

  • StillModerated

    Are they insinuating that White jailbirds are better behaved than their black and hispanic counterparts?

  • MekongDelta69

    Let’s lock up Paige St. John of the useless Los Angeles Slimes for a few days and see if she doesn’t change her mind — IF she doesn’t wind up dead

  • MikeofAges

    It’s a prison, stupid. In prison, you lose some of your civil rights.

  • rose tascher

    A couple years ago a White homeless mentally ill young man was arrested in Los Angeles. He had a warrant out in another state. The warrant was only because he had left the state and not contacted his parole officer, nothing else.
    Hispanic guards placed him in a holding cell with just bars, not a wall in the front. He was placed with all Hispanic inmates. He was beaten to death half an hour later.
    Liberals complain about the lack of White prison inmates. I have always thought that the prospect of dealing with blacks and Hispanics in prison is the reason the White crime rate is so low. Think of how awful dealing with blacks at work, in public, shopping areas, subways, and every where is. We can’t avoid them at work and in public, but we can and do avoid them by staying out of prison.

    • baldowl

      I disagree with you regarding whites staying out of prison just to avoid darker folks, but I will tell you many a white realist is born behind bars. “If you’re not racist now, you will before you get out of here,” I was told my first week in. And here I am.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    They should stop arresting blacks for black-on-black crime, but they should continue arresting blacks for black-on-white crime. By doing that, the government would clear out a lot of prison space and have more money left over to spend on other things, like rounding up and herding blacks into their own separate communities.

    • I don’t want them victimizing anyone at all.

      • ElComadreja

        It’s in their blood. Let them kill and rape each other.

    • dd121

      You forget we have Holder as our Gang Banger Attorney General. He’d come to the aid of “his people”.

  • Jo

    “inmates live in cells where their race is denoted by color-coded signs.”

    The only way to survive inside and (outside – electrified gated communities).

  • journey

    Believe those judges need some real life experiences prior to their rulings. (like locked up in prison).

  • TruthBeTold

    I wonder what this will do for race relations in prison?

  • IstvanIN

    Prisons should be segregated by race, but of course Bader-Ginsburg said no to that very sensible idea

    • SFLBIB

      Kinda reminds me of the time Geraldo Reviera had some Black Panthers and some Klan members on the same stage and tried to get them to have a civil dialog.

  • Ograf

    When left to our own devices all races will segregate themselves. It is natural and normal. In Germany when I was in the Army the mess hall was one place it was obvious. All Whites sat together and all blacks sat together, and hispanics had their couple of tables. It led to NO problems. The problems started when we were forced to go to race-relations classes. This was in the early seventies. 1971 to be exact.

    • Jack Burton

      The same can be seen in schools, especially at the high school level. It’s not imposed by racist Whites either, blacks segregate themselves from Whites.

      All liberal scumbags should be forced to live in majority black communities and their children sent to majority black schools. Lady Justice would be grinning from ear to ear.

      • IstvanIN

        Even holidays are that way. The men in the living room, the women in the kitchen, the bigger kids in the playroom, and the little kids (and me and my brother) outside playing. People congregate with those they have something in common with. My brother and I will watch the little kids (he has one young one left, I have one grandson, and my sister has three little ones.

    • NotTooSwift

      A friend of mine married a Vietnamese woman he met during the VN War. Most of her family came to the US under refugee status. They were all fine people.

      During family gatherings at his home, both the white and Asian groups would interact…for about 30 minutes, then would self-segregate. No big deal. Humans are tribal creatures, as are the rest of the animal kingdom. Remember “birds of a feather flock together.”

      Why must we force nature to do what is not natural?

      • SFLBIB

        Because liberals think they have a better way and want to share it with us.

    • SFLBIB

      “There are countries where hyping race and ethnicity has led to slaughters in the
      streets, but you cannot name a country where it has led to greater harmony.” –
      Thomas Sowell

  • John R

    People who work in corrections are on the front lines in the race war going on in this country. Most of us White people just buy our way out and move to areas with few blacks or “Hispanics” (i.e. mestizos and mulattoes.). So they know better than most in how to handle non-Whites. I like the idea of collective punishment. Obviously, the “minorities” (If I can still use that term.) don’t. Strange, though, how blacks are all for collective punishment when it comes to things that some White people may have done centuries ago, in the form of affirmative action programs that specifically benefit blacks at the expense of Whites. But when it is blacks causing problems, they are against all being labeled and collectively punished. Usual double standards.

  • dd121

    Whites pay again.

  • Pro_Whitey

    The threat of potential hispanic violence against white kids daring to wear American flag T shirts on Sinko day Mah-yo was supposedly enough justification to kick the white kids out of school. But the almost predictable result of interracial violence in prison, populated by men with proven records of violence, is not enough to justify separating them.

  • IKUredux

    I have to assume this a problem because of the effect on so-called “minorities”. Trust me, if this was affecting Whites the most, this would be a non-problem. In other words, Whites are either benefitting from the current policy, or, they are not suffering enough.

  • Wholly Unconvinced

    Hahaha, I love the glasses and stern look, he’s trying so hard to emulate an intelligent, distinguished white judge… it’s pathetic but hilarious at the same time.

    • HE2

      He be lookin’ fierce.
      St. Mary’s College is nearby. He must have moved away after graduation, our residential breaking and entering cases have gone way down.

  • LHathaway

    “If wardens did not have the discretion to lock down racial groups after such a race-based incident, they would either have to lock down all inmates in the affected area”

    As if they haven’t already been doing that already. . . since there have prisons in the country.


    I had a similar idea: before being granted a license to practice, would-be lawyers have to spend five years as ride-along interns with an inner city police force. One-third of which would be the night shift.

  • disqus_irCdmAu8It

    I live in a county that is 90%. 90% of our crime is committed by blacks from a neighboring county that has a medium sized city with the state’s major university. The students are always at risk from roving gangs of thugs. Take a guess.